WOKING’S Fiery Bird is, like all other entertainment venues and theatres in the country, currently closed with bookings and gigs cancelled.

But despite the difficult times, co-founder and Radio Woking DJ Elaine McGinty is determined to find positives from the situation.

“Obviously, this is a difficult and sad situation all round. There are several factors we need to consider which cause us issues and where we can demonstrate the strengths and benefits a social project like ours can bring to the community in such vulnerable times.

“Even if our venue is closed, we have so much work to do behind the scenes for the future of the project, and this work can continue. We can use this time to really see this stage through, to help embed a community venue and grassroots arts in our community.

“Our team’s efforts to get us where we are mustn’t be lost and it’s important to keep the team involved and working together. We want to welcome new members virtually as much as we can, not just to keep the project going but also to be there for each other and our community through this difficult time,” she said.

“As well as a live music venue, Phoenix Centre/Fiery Bird has always been a place where people who otherwise would not go out can be welcome. There may be people who are very isolated now and need connection. Suggestions welcome on how we can encourage people to use all arts and creativity to find solace and connection.

“We have members and volunteers with expertise in so many areas, who might be able to help people and shape what we can do to support our community and each other through this.

“Many of our musician friends are live-streaming performances, so we don’t necessarily see a gap that we need to fill there, but there may be other ways we can get people together, perhaps through sharing music, chatting or other things in a virtual group.

“Community-led businesses are at the heart of the places they serve and can respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of people where they are based. When this blows over, we will be able to be part of building our community back up in resilience and hope.

“We welcome people to help us do this, based on our core principles and values of being a community driven, equality and ethics based, welcoming project,” Elaine added.

“This project has seen adversity many times in its 10-year history. It was built on adversity and always comes out stronger. We know that we can survive this, with even more resolve to be a place where everyone can express themselves. Bear with us, we are working as hard as we can in the background, but whatever happens, keep your spirits high and reach out if you need help.

“Take care of yourselves, you are very, very valued.”