Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Redcastle Community Centre Article....

Thetford and Brandon Newspaper, Wednesday 29th July 2009 - Page 3. Here's the link to the story;

Saturday, 25 July 2009

How to involve the community?

At this weeks planning committee meeting of the Town Council, the matter of the London Road bridge came up for discussion. I took the opportunity to comment on the fact that very few people in the town knew that the bridge was going to be removed. As a councillor, I get to hear about all sorts of things planned to happen - e.g. planning application proposals, and generally I am kept informed about matters of interest in the town. As a community worker, my instincts are to involve, engage and inform people. But yet with my town council hat, I have no capacity or resouces to share this information with the wider public and it is thoroughly frustrating. This blog is one avenue I use to share information, the other main one is facebook - I find it incredibly useful for informing people about matters which may be of interest or canvassing views on a given subject. For example, I think around 20 people used it to contact me initially asking what was happening with the bridge, and then to pass comment on what they thought of the idea. At the meeting on Wednesday, I explained that councils - County, District and Town and other agencies, such as the police, needed to put more effort into involving communities, and using a variety of methods to do so. Otherwise, can we really wonder why apathy rules in so many quarters? I would welcome any views from readers on methods of sharing information.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Sticking to an election pledge

When I stood for the Town Council by-election in July 2008, I listed three priorities on my main election leaflet. One of which was to campaign for more facilities and activities for children and young people in this town. We have a higher percentage of children under the age of 16 than any other place in Norfolk. 25% of Thetford is under 16, the national average is 17%. Imagine my horror therefore when I read the latest edition of Breckland Voice (the propaganda newspaper produced by Breckland Council, affectionately known as the 'bin-rag' by some, and worse names by others). I digress. Breckland Voice detailed two pages of activities for children taking place across the district, all free! great! Errrm. No. Not a single one taking place in Thetford. (Although, not many in Dereham either to be fair). I contacted Breckland Council and asked why. Because deadlines were missed. OK. What is happening? Activities at the Sports Centre provided by Parkwood? Hold on, Parkwood are a private company, they are charging for all their activities, one was £18 per child per day! Can parents across the Saxon Ward, and Thetford afford that? No. Furthermore, they are a sports centre, activities are sports related. Not all kids like sport. The activities detailed in 'Voice' were a mix, including arts and crafts related. So the bottom line is, it is not like for like. Once again, Thetford is being missed out. Don't children and young people in Thetford deserve something to do over the summer holidays? It would be worth mentioning Norfolk Youth Service at this point, part of Norfolk County Council, whom it would appear are also inadequately serving the needs of young people in this town. I contacted the Bury Free Press and shared my frustrations. They picked up on the story, and initially wanted a photograph of me to accompany the story, I suggested they speak to the parents who had contacted me initially asking about activities for children and hence the above lovely photo of bored children, has ended up on this weeks front page. Providing more activities for children and young people is of paramount important in this town and I will continue to do whatever I can to chip away at the issue. Here is the link to the story; UPDATE: From a parent who contacted me about the lack of childrens activities who's child I invited to be in the photo for the newspaper: "I couldn't believe it when I saw it, I went to buy it and noticed they got front page! I was really pleased because people will have to pay attention now :) if it gets the message through then its all worth it because our children are the future an they will determine what happens next; if Thetford is going to be a respectable place with many opportunites or whether it will be known for crime and anti social behaviour !! thanx mate for giving me the opportunity to play a part in what happens to my childs future :) xx

Pine Close ASB / Crime Roadshow - 13th July 2009

On Monday, we had an anti-social behaviour and crime related roadshow at the front of Pine Close shops. The idea being to encourage more people from the community to report crime and asb that occurs to ensure the figures represent the reality of what goes on in the area. A good number of people went along to it, could have been more, but the opportunity was there. Change does not happen overnight but you have to chip away at it. Click here to view our latest Barnham Action Group newsletter which was delivered around the estate prior to the event;

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Abbey Centre wins regional award!

Last week I attended the 'What we are proud of awards' organised by the National Housing Federation. The Abbey Estate, and Abbey Neighbourhood Centre had been nominated in recognition for the huge amount of work that has taken place to improve the community, and for the way which the estate has changed over the years. We work closely with Peddars Way and other agencies on the Abbey Estate. I went with four volunteers from the Abbey community, and the PCSO for the Estate - Gavin Tampin. We were all delighted to have been shortlisted in the top 3 out of the 24 projects submitted. We had to give a 15 minute presentation outlining 'what we are proud of' and focus on what examples of partnership work had taken place and how the project helps housing association tenants. All of us attending gave short speeches as part of our presentation, followed by a brief video of some of the activities taking place. Giving a speech in front of so many people is no easy undertaking, luckily I have a little bit of experience of it now, but I was still very nervous, but those not used to doing it were very brave, and did a fantastic job and were clearly determined to make sure they got their good news story across. Despite the other two projects being of a very high standard, I am delighted to say that our project won, and will now represent the whole Eastern Region at the national awards ceremony in London. The victory was even more poignant given that the winner was chosen by votes cast from those attending on the evening, including attendees for the other projects. Here is the text from my speech on the night: Good evening, my name is Terry Jermy and I am a Community Worker with Keystone Development Trust and Manager of the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. A community workers’ role is to work with, engage and empower local residents to address issues themselves and work together to improve their community. Therefore, you need a community, to have a community worker. And ultimately, the reason why the Abbey Estate has improved is not because of the money spent on it, or the greater attention from whichever agency, it is because the community, the people that live there, have wanted it to improve, and improve it has. The community centre now boasts a fantastic community café, open from Tuesday – Saturday, it really has become the hub for the community, the café is providing employment for people from the local area, and is providing training and support to a whole number of volunteers. We have a weekly youth group on a Tuesday, providing an activity for 5-9 years and then 10-15 years, over 60 children walk through the door every Tuesday for this. We have at least 6 volunteers assisting this project and all are completing child protection and first aid courses, and will soon complete basic youth work training, this will hopefully get them a foot in the door to paid youth work. We have two weekly bingo sessions, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings. This is greatly appreciated by the older members of our community – for some it is the only thing they do each week. We’ve just launched weekly senior citizen lunches on Fridays, a home-cooked meal such as shepeherds pie, for just £2.50 per person. We also have a table tennis club on a Monday night for those aged 16-24 years and this is helping us to develop links with this age group, many of which have a chequered past having been in prison and experienced drug and alcohol misuse. Hopefully through something as simple as table tennis, we can start to help improve the lives of these young people as well. It is truly a community centre for the whole community, and I think symbolizes that this community has improved. For me, the most striking thing about the people you see here tonight, and others involved with activities in this community, is their commitment and dedication through adversity. They all have a whole variety of issues going on in their own lives, they could easily let these issues consume them, and have resentment against society, but they do not, they all muck in, do their bit, and through it, support each other, and are stronger for it. Brenda touched upon an issue sensitive to her just now, and many of the people involved with activities at the Abbey have their own personal situations which they strive to overcome. But they don’t let that prevent them from doing their bit in their community, and I like to think in return, they support each other, and I like to think that their community supports them. So to summarise, We know our community has improved, the people on the Abbey Estate know their community has improved, YOU here, have the power this evening, to help us send a message to everyone else that this community has improved. Vote for the Abbey.Here's the link to an article about it in the Bury Free Press;

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Go Further Trips; Autumn / Winter 2009

Please click the link above to view the list of coach trips that I am running between now and Christmas 2009.