Yesterday I attended the launch of the Rooted in the community event. No not in Kent but across the water in Southend.
Now you may think that its quite odd to report on something that another town in another county is doing, but there's no need to reinvent the wheel..This is a fantastic event and well worthy of highlighting.
The official launch took place in the newly constructed conference centre on the end of the famous one and a half mile pier.
To commence with welcomed with a warm cheery smile by local council officers and councillors that know me by name. (Remember this is Southend and I live in Margate)
The launch was kicked off by a Community champion, who said that she had only lived in Southend for 3 years, but was proud to be a champion for her community and had never felt so welcome, and such a sense of belonging in any other place she had lived. (no mention of, how dare you, a newcomer, interfere here.
Community champions have been trained by Southend council and are making a huge difference in the community.
The nine days of events have been organised and run by community champions.
There was initially a conference arranged by Southend council in 2010 and it has developed and grown from there
Southend has a diverse and active community to enjoy. He said a lot more, but that's the bones of it really.
Stuart long community champion
The Cohesion week was Launched on 16th March 2013 he then gave us a comprehensive list of events taking place. This encompassed 26 events over nine days.
Rob Tinlin CEO Southend council
He said, this flags up the type of town we live in. We live in a vibrant and diverse safe community. Lets Talk up Southend as its a superb community.
Started with initial conference in 2010 connecting communities. This was aimed at trying to get partnerships together. They have built on this yearly until present time. Working on refreshing strategies for Southend cohesion.
Their vision statement is 'creating a better Southend. Safer, more healthy prosperous, and try bad to be an excellent council.
To this end they are trying to help people to help themselves .Their
Councils role is to facilitate own decision making . Trying to stimulate and support different initiatives. These co ordinations range from many different activities.
Like us all they had reports of ' Wild children, and families in poverty'. These children and families have now been offered day care facilities and college opportunities, amongst other things and this has given people them the chance to change their lives. Neighbours and community groups are helping to change lives.
There is now improved communication between groups.
They have their own community champion website. http://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200020/community_advice
I haven't yet located the twitter account but the facebook account is above.
These are designed to help to find interests and things to do or support for domestic violence, share succour. They offer support to each other and do constructive work in the communities.
Sweat resources. Train people from community groups to do practical work for themselves, safely. Building on success.
Southend has been short listed for city of culture. Southend isn't just about kiss me quick hats. Its very sophisticated too. There is plenty of other stuff going on besides.
Matt king Southend communities partnership
A great Big up for the voluntary sector. 6 groups working together to build more resilient communities, training and volunteer opportunities.
A good Route to use to all to groups. Helps raise concerns. There are 5 other groups working together, although they so remain individual and autonomous. They still work together to share, signpost and support one another. This helps avoid duplication. They are stronger together. They meet regularly. They have a formal partnership agreement. They also have shared targets and a website. They have been working together for 1 year formally and have an accredited programme for volunteers. This is in conjunction with Southend college. It Includes H&S risk assessments. Road shows and benefit changes.
The potential is huge and limit is our imagination. Funds are available.
Streets ahead. Any family can be troubled.
Government spoke of 'Troubled families'
We were greeted by 2 of 5 community workers.
Southends approach to tackling troubled families, they created pioneers, in a new role. These people work in their own community. For instance a single parent can associate with people's troubles in her community. Some areas have been bogged down with stigmas that it doesn't deserve.
A newly employed Community worker said that with a fresh set of eyes, I can see things differently. I have had a huge amount of support. from local agencies. Community is what the community make it.
Empowering local committees. That's what to do
They are creating Ward based directories of services. They are also concentrating on community consultation, and listening to residents wants and needs. They help to set up community projects and then get them to take ownership of them.
C.A,S.T. Communities and asylum seekers together.
Homeless and destitute asylum seekers in Southend. Some living in tents and some living in cars. Hosting families. This is a huge challenge
Asylum seekers have no access to public funding. There is support for immigrants but not asylum seekers
Knowing me knowing you
Community champion sherry Fulle
Get together, to talk about memories of land marks of Southends past and present.
Baroness Helen new love government champion for active safer communities.
Victims commissioner for England and Wales. How to empower communities to have a voice. Council need to take on board that communities do have a voice. This Lady lost her husband to act of unprovoked violence. His name was Gary. She has no hidden agenda, what she said was from the heart. She has had Fantastic support from the Warrington community. She helped in the formation of a Warrington community radio station. "It's about passion and about your area. Break barriers, everybody is equal to everybody. Anti social behaviour varies across different communities."
Apparently there is duckling watch and tractor watch and many other community actions besides." Anti social behaviour has many meanings and different implications depending on where you live or your community. Youngsters don't understand older people and vice versa. It's about you, it should be in your words, don't be intimidated by Jargon you don't understand. If you are proud of where you live then say so. Don't just sit at home moaning."
I spoke with this lady after and she told me about the death of her husband and how she could give up or move on. Thank God for us all she has moved on and is now an inspiration to victims across the UK.
Check out the events for yourself but if I had not commitments here in Thanet. I would certainly have spent the week there. Visiting a Synagogue, church, Mosque and Hindu Temple first on my list.
I have never been in the company of such a diverse mix of people who just want to get along and share experiences and work together. You could feel the passion. It was heart-warming. My name badge calling me an active community member topped it off. I can appreciate how proud those people are and I am too in my own way to be a part of that cohesion week. I'm also a Recycling champion there too. Silly I know but its a sense of pride and perhaps that's what's sparked this fabulous event in Southend Essex, that we so could benefit from and easily emulate in Kent
Regardless of politics if someone else is doing something very good, why cant we do the same?