The High Sheriff of Shropshire

The High Sheriff of Shropshire

High Sheriff Badge
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April 2022

Having been installed as the High Sheriff of Shropshire for 2022-23 on the eighth of April, my feet have barely touched the ground, but I have already visited some wonderful organisations and met some inspirational people both virtually and in person.

One of the things that I very much want to encourage during my year as High Sheriff is for people to be able to help in their communities either by volunteering, or donating much needed items to clothes banks, food banks, etc or otherwise getting involved. There are so many people whose own mental health and wellbeing would benefit from the joy of volunteering for the right organisation, and so many organisations who need them. Not only are volunteers able to support others but they gain from volunteering by meeting new people – friends or business contacts, feeling part of the community, building CVs, skills and experience and, for some, it enables movement into paid employment. The overall value of volunteering within Shropshire is estimated at over £208 million per year.

90,687 people in Shropshire formally volunteer at least once a month – but that leaves over 300,000 who do not! Every time I go anywhere, and almost anyone I meet working in the third sector is still in need of more assistance. There is so much we can do to help – whether that is businesses giving staff opportunities to volunteer or ensuring that old IT and furniture is repurposed for charitable use, or individuals looking out for the ways in which we can best use our skills and interests and time.

There are so many varied roles available and I’m hoping that by breaking them down into specific asks that it might be easier for people to engage with them, and find what suits them best. If the requests do not sing to individuals, then please help the High Sheriff’s volunteer social media team by sharing the requests as far and wide as possible, so that others might see them and be interested in them.

In the month of April I have visited, or met the following:

Rod Hammerton, the Chief Fire Officer.

There are 350 on call Fire Officers in Shropshire playing an absolutely vital role to support the whole time staff. These people have everyday lives and jobs, until their pager sounds; then they immediately make their way to the fire station and are on the front line to help with floods, fires, road traffic collisions, chemical spills or rescues.

There are 22 fire stations in Shropshire and 20 are staffed purely by on call personnel, attending some 4,000 emergencies annually. Shropshire has the best level of on call fire fighter performance in the whole country and many people would die but for this vital service. At the moment in Shropshire most stations are well served, but there is a shortage in Prees and in Albrighton – if you live within 5 minutes of either of these fire stations and are over 18, and physically fit, this message could be for you. With top quality training and the chance to learn new skills, being an on-call firefighter is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference.

For more information and to apply:

www.Shropshirefire.gov.uk/on-call

Leanne Simcoe, Little Stars Baby Bank.

There are lots of baby banks in the UK but not in Shropshire. After having her own children, Leanne wanted to pass on things that were no longer needed, but there was nowhere to take them to even though she knew that there were families in desperate need. Instead of doing nothing, she set up a a charity and it is growing from strength to strength. Little Star’s vision is a world where all babies and children have access to the basic essentials that they need to feel safe and secure. She believes that every family, no matter how complex their situation, should be shown kindness and support at the time they need it most.

She only offers help to those referred by professionals such as doctors, midwives and health visitors, as well as appropriate voluntary organisations, homestart, Wrekin housing, shrewsbury homes for all etc. In the first 3 months last year she had 16 referrals, in the same time period this year, 59. She keeps an up to date wish list on the website of items needed, but will be delighted with almost anything of good quality in good condition. Having only set up 18 months ago, Leanne is now seeking trustees to join the new board who will actively champion Little Stars and help them make a real difference to the lives of families in the county.

For more information and to apply:

www.Littlestarsbabybank.co.uk

Caia Bryant-Griffiths, HomeStart Telford.

Home-Start Telford & Wrekin is a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child under five years of age. They recruit and train volunteers to visit families at home where they can offer informal, friendly and confidential support.

No special qualifications are necessary to become a Home-Start volunteer, but volunteers are usually parents or grandparents with an interest in, and experience of, young children and family life who can spare time to talk and listen – and in so doing, can empower families to overcome their difficult situations. Volunteers are offered on-going training and support activities.

“Volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

The first 1,001 days of life from pregnancy lay the foundations for physical and mental health. Babies’ brains are developing rapidly, and are at their most adaptable in the womb and in the earliest years of life. These years can be turbulent; full of challenge and opportunity, vulnerability and growth. Since Covid there is a huge increase in feelings of isolation faced by parents, with 75% of respondents in a recent HomeStart survey saying that they felt cut off from family and friends.

There has been a huge drop off in volunteer visits over Covid, and HomeStart are desperately looking for people who know what it is like to have children and can give a few hours a week for a year to visit a family and help them keep their heads above water at this vital time in their and their small children’s lives.

For more information and to apply:

www.homestarttelfordandwrekin.co.uk

Amanda Jones, Shropshire Supports Refugees.

Shropshire Supports Refugees (SSR) began as a welcome group for Refugee Action in 2016. In 2017, it became a not for profit Community interest company and started to promote awareness of the migration crisis and the needs of the refugee community in Shrewsbury and Shropshire. Towards the end of 2021 SSR gained charity status and is now a registered CIO.

More than 11 million people are believed to have fled their homes in Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the United Nations. 250 Ukrainians have so far received visas to come and stay in Shropshire – it seems like a drop in the ocean, but it is a massive scale up on what has come before.

Having supported 22 refugee families over the years, Amanda is uniquely placed and working closely with Shropshire Council and other organisations to support the refugees coming to Shropshire from the Ukraine – she is co-ordinating the local effort, promoting and supporting hubs so that best practice can be shared and then delivered where it is actually needed – in the heart of our communities, where families have settled. The hope is that local people will offer at the local level to support the Shropshire families and their guest families, with everything from activities to food and car sharing, translation, respite and much more.

In this way more people will find out what is on offer in their communities for all residents, others will step up to provide what is missing, and the legacy of community support begun so well in Covid, highlighted again for the refugee crisis, will live on for everybody in the future. Everyone can help refugees and/or the families giving them homes, by being kind and thoughtful, welcoming and inclusive. Check your local are for what more you can do where it counts most – cooking, fundraising, organising events.

In particular, Amanda is hoping to create a mental health and wellbeing system of support for people with trauma in the belief that curing mind, body and spirit nurtures healing that lasts. People who deliver therapeutic sessions, from massage to yoga, reflexology to osteopathy are asked to offer their assistance to these people who need it – hopefully in an accessible building close to the transport links covering the outskirts of Shrewsbury, but in the countryside to make the most of the benefits of the great outdoors – does anyone have a venue? Not necessarily for the long term?

For more information and to apply:

www.shropshiresupportsrefugees.org

Steve Jones, Shrewsbury Street Pastors.

Shrewsbury street pastors started 10 years ago. The 37 Christian volunteers are drawn from 17 churches from 7 different denominations, and work in partnership with Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council, Team Shrewsbury and the West Mercia Police, known as “The Urban Trinity”. A team of Street Pastors (consisting of 3 or 4 trained volunteers) patrols the town centre every Saturday (and the occasional Friday, Sunday and Wednesday), between the hours of 10.30pm. and 4 am (approx.) to help, care for and listen to those in difficulty without judgment or discrimination. A bottle of water for those who are dehydrated, a pair of flip-flops for those struggling to walk in high heels, a space blanket for those without a coat, a phone call to track down missing friends or arrange a taxi home, or simply a listening ear – all are part of a night’s work for a Street Pastor. They have a support vehicle, and their future aim is to use the vehicle for outreach, preventative work and promotional activities, to raise the awareness of the charity’s objectives.

Nearly all their work is within the loop of the river, and this is a big issue. They have recently added throwline training to the courses attended by volunteers. 89% of men who died after going missing on a night out were found dead in water.

An initiative is under development to provide breakfast on a Sunday for any who sleep rough in Shrewsbury. Volunteers are needed to take out water and cereal bars, fruit etc. to any sleeping rough on a Sunday morning. Pairs of volunteers walk the likely spots to deliver to whom they find.

For more information and to apply:
www.streetpastors.org/locations/shrewsbury

Alison cope, anti violence campaigner.

Alison is the mother of Joshua Ribera who was murdered in 2013. She now works tirelessly to help prevent youth violence by sharing her son’s unique life and death story to help educate young people on the realties and consequences of youth violence. She is the most amazing personification of how to turn any mother’s worst nightmare into something more positive. She feels that, as a nation, we are too reactive – we wait for something to happen, before we try to prevent it, so she is going for mass education – and by next year she reckons she will have spoken to a million young people! She is a one man band but has been visiting 22 schools some weeks, reaching 3,000 young people a week. Her presentation is very powerful and all schools or larger youth groups should sign up for the talk, which conveys: the importance of prevention, the emotive realisation of how choices affect loved ones and how young people retain hope for the future. So many children carry knives because they think 70% of their peers are carrying them and this simply is not true. They think they need them to keep themselves safe, and they do not – they risk a life in gaol for a threat that is not there. Please ask your school to get her in to talk.

For more information and to apply:

www.Alisoncope.com

Ed Hancox, Superintendent West Mercia Police Prevention unit.

The police are having a major focus on “prevent not pursue”. Most crime stems from mental health problems, substance abuse, or domestic violence, all of which stem from some sort of trauma – we need to focus on reducing the trauma that happens in the first place. The Manchester Bee will be on tour with WM police this year. It has been made by the same people as the Knife Angel in Shropshire. He is promoting the steer clear campaign against knife crime.

Public safety, crime prevention and protection of the vulnerable cannot be accomplished by the police alone. It takes effective partnership working and strong community relationships. Neighbourhood Matters is intended to help the police to work with the public and build strong community relationships.

If you sign up to Neighbourhood Matters, you decide who you want to hear from and the type of alerts you want to receive. You’ll be getting information on exactly what’s happening in your area and what is being done about it. You’ll also hear about positive police action, good news stories and be able to play an active part in helping them with their public appeals.

www.neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk

Do you know a young person who deserves recognition for their good work in the community? You can nominate them for West Mercia’s Young Good Citizen Awards 2022.

www.westmercia.police.uk

Raj Mehta, The Interfaith Council

It is a registered charity believing in and promoting unity in the community facilitating dialogue and communication and celebrating every community. The interfaith council is actively encouraging and bringing people together to overcome historical differences and work to make a better world for all people. There are 20 to 23 Different cultures and faiths on the council as members, we should all be reaching out to people of other faiths learning about them and understanding their beliefs. We all have a heart and feelings we can make small steps to make the world a better place. The Interfaith council is working with the PCC and the Council towards the Safer Stronger Communities project – hosting and signposting. At the moment they are particularly looking for somebody to man the front desk at headquarters at 19 new street in Wellington TF1 1LU. Do you have a sunny disposition and like helping people – with 2 or 3 hours to spare just one day a week?

For more information and to apply:

www.interfaithtelford.org

Installation of High Sheriff of Warwickshire, David Kelham.

At the stunning Lord Leycesters Hospital in Warwick. Treated to great speeches in a truly historic setting and a generous lunch thereafter. Wishing him all the best for his year in office focusing on Education, Environment, Equality and Enterprise.

Simon Lellow, Telford Crisis Support.

Simon is the Operations Manager and he was explaining how the food bank has grown into so much more than food in the 10 years since it was founded. Food is so rarely the only problem, so they now do baby bundles, toiletries, school uniforms, blankets and even beds and home start bundles. They are mostly a referral service, working with Stars, Stay, YMCA, Thrive, Probation and Police. 1 in 10 families across the country will access a food bank in the next month and this is getting worse.

It is a sobering thought that many people will not be able to afford fuel to cook food in the coming months, even if the if the food is available to them. The total cost of food is so much more than the food and the cost of transporting it, also the power to refrigerate/freeze it and then the power to cook it. The other initiative that Telford crisis support is currently undertaking is a fund for slow cookers because they’re much cheaper to run and cook good wholesome food. As with everybody else, they’re looking for money, but in particular, the cost of getting food to the right people is ever increasing and a sponsor for fuel would be very helpful.

A lot of people are using this service for the first time due to the cost of living crisis, so there is more support around these individuals and signposting to other services, for debt advice, and mental health support. Although the food parcels themselves may only be a sticking plaster, they are making a huge difference when accessed early enough to prevent the downward spiral – people need to not be afraid to ask for help as soon as they need it.

At the moment they have a fabulous and supportive group of volunteers, many of whom I met at the base in Halesfield. They have already delivered almost 40,000 food parcels in the first 3 months of this year to the neighbouring areas in Telford. They are short of storage space and they would particularly like a source of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, cheese and dairy products. If anybody knows of suppliers where potentially these items go to waste it would be great if they could link up. There is a wish list on their website which is kept updated and they love it when people do “food bank pick up packs” like Morrisons (who see from social media what the current shortages are and ensure the right things are in the packs).

For more information and to apply:

www.Telfordcrisissupport.org.uk

Sarah Bratby, Shropshire Domestic Abuse Service

The Service exists to provide an outreach and a child/young person’s service to adults and their children whose lives are affected by domestic abuse, to empower them to make decisions for themselves about their own futures. They work in partnership with local agencies to enable women and children/young people to regain the strength and confidence to take control of their lives and to have a future without fear.  An outreach service with training and awareness sessions and refuges (one staffed 10 bed, and two unstaffed smaller ones) which are safe places, staffed by trained workers who will offer comfort, support, resettlement advice and practical help. 

What can you do? They are looking for support from volunteers and have created a new role for Sarah, the volunteer co-ordinator, to do this. At the moment the donations they receive of emergency clothing and household items are taking up space in one of the rooms at the principle Refuge, so they need a donation hub in central Shrewsbury (which could easily be shared with another charity/business) where volunteers can accept and log donations and recipients can visit – away from the Refuge which would be better for all involved.  This would also free up the space in the refuges so they can be used for their intended purpose. After they have the hub, they will be looking for volunteers to work for a few hours a week to collect in and log donations.

For more information and to apply:

www.shropsdas.org.uk

Sebastian Slater, Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID).

Another great example, in Shropshire, of partnership working. Founded in 2014, by the businesses which went on to become its members, Shrewsbury BID is a business-led and business-funded not-for-profit organisation, governed by a voluntary board of Directors, representative of the town’s businesses. It is democratically elected and delivers a range of projects and services to promote the town, save costs for businesses, improve the trading environment and give a strong voice to businesses on key issues affecting them.

There are more than 500 businesses working collectively to impact on how Shrewsbury town centre is promoted and managed and influence how it develops. They have worked closely with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council to develop the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan, but as well as this, they will spend over £2m in the town during each 5 year term supporting businesses – and the charities which trade in the town. They have a pub watch/shop watch service, and a presence in the town centre, working with partners to prevent anti social behaviour. There are moves afoot to make Shrewsbury more friendly for older people with mobility issues.

An important part of their work is promoting and animating the town to attract new visitors, and to support businesses who are successfully achieving an international presence and winning prestigious events for the town. The Shrewsbury Club has won the bid for the W$100,000 women’s tennis event later this year as part of the LTA’s Performance Competitions Calendar.

The new International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tour event – expected to feature leading British and international stars – will be held at the Sundorne Road venue’s indoor courts in October and have already announced that they will need lots of volunteers to run the tennis tournament and help them make it into the spectacular event they are planning.

For more information:

www.shrewsburybid.co.uk

To apply:

www.theshrewsburyclub.co.uk

Shropshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs

Joined Carol Griffiths County Chairman of the NFU and Andrew Bebb from Shropshire Rural Support to speak at the Executive Meeting of the SFYFC. Great to see what a vibrant and active group of young farmers we have in the county. 18 clubs and over 650 members between them volunteering and helping in their communities in all manner of ways, as well as clearly having a lot of competitive and non-competitive fun! Rachel Cooper is the current chair and I hope to link up with some of their initiatives throughout the year.

Joining a local young farmers club is a fantastic way to get out into your community, meet more people, learn to organise events, go to fun competitions, find an outlet for your creative side in drama or decorating floats, and to join with others to volunteer where it is needed – there really is something for everyone.

For more information or to join:

www.sfyfc.org.uk

Shropshire Rural Support was set up in 1991 to help people living in rural Shropshire by providing confidential support during periods of anxiety and stress and with problems relating to their families and businesses. They depend on volunteers to deliver the service and on friends and families for referrals. In particular they are looking for people from farming backgrounds who understand the ups and downs of farming and living in the countryside with time to listen, guide and signpost.

For more information or to apply:

www.shropshireruralsupport.org.uk

The Cavalier Centre.

Attended their quarterly meeting as chair of trustees. It is wonderful to see them going from strength to strength, with new programmes for refugees, young people not in employment, education or training, and young people with social or emotional needs as well as their traditional Riding for the Disabled and carriage driving. A new bespoke more intimate space to spend time with horses is just about to be built “The Little Bradbury” Arena, and we have just been approved to deliver the BHS programme “changing lives through horses”.

The herd of 15 horses and ponies help people of all ages from Shropshire and beyond to find peace, wellbeing and a sense of achievement. In return, the horses and ponies are adored and well cared for, but they need a new hay barn to store their winter hay and in the spirit of environmental sustainability would love to convert a 40ft shipping container. Can you help them find one or help with the conversion?  

For more information or to apply:

www.cavaliercentre.org

Michelle John, PEGS

Another truly inspirational person, turning personal tragedy and loss into the most extraordinarily powerful and effective force for good. PEGS is a lived experience service for parents who are abused by their own children (CPA). Over 2000 parents have been supported by Michelle’s team since PEGS became operational in March 2020. The number of people suffering abuse at the hands of their own children is simply staggering. 3% of the UK population experience it, and to date the understanding and sympathy has been almost non existent let alone the support. One parent is killed every 19 days in this country at the hands of their own child.

They are a social enterprise CIC who run drop in services 3 times a week, but having seen 133 people last month alone, they are going to increase that to daily. They also help with health and safety planning and risk assessments and recording of information for the local authority, they run one to one sessions as well as group sessions with the motto “listen, support, empower”. They run programmes like EPIC empowering parents in crisis, a practical, emotional support 9 week programme, and “getting to know” workshops. She is also now advising the government and running training with the police and in schools and local authorities.

They are looking for more volunteers to listen. Even 2 hours a week on the telephone just listening, or people with lived experience who are now safe and able to give back as peer mentors.

For more information or to apply:

www.pegssupport.co.uk

The Movement Centre Open Day.

There are an estimated 30,000 children with cerebral palsy in the UK. Approximately 1,800 children are diagnosed every year (around 1 in 400 live births). It is a lifelong disorder that affects muscle control and movement and although it is not the only condition that is treated at the Movement Centre, it is the most common motor disability in childhood. They also treat Down Syndrome and many more.

The Movement Centre has been going since 1996 and is a hidden jewel in Shropshire’s Crown – the only providers in the UK. The main purpose of the day was to increase awareness of what the Movement Centre does – and it changes lives. The method that they use to help children is targeted training therapy, which is to promote the control of upright posture over 6-12 months with a minimum of 30 minutes work a day.

The intention is for it to be enjoyed by the children and to make it fun. They have standing frames which are fitted to the child initially supporting more of the body and then work down the body, supporting less and less. It simplifies the learning of control by stabilising the rest of the body while the children work on the next area. We were shown around the centre and given a presentation on how the therapy works, as well as being able to hear from a family whose child had benefited. The testimonials are stunning evidence of its success.

Post Covid the numbers have dropped hugely and they are down to about 40 children receiving help at the moment, but are hoping to get that back up to capacity of just over double that. They are hoping to expand and also do outreach with mentors for families with children with mobility issues and we certainly need to shout about this incredible facility that is making such a fantastic difference to the lives of the children. The current cost of treatment to treat a child is £5,500, but this is being discounted by the Centre to £2,000 through grants and fundraising to try and make it as accessible as possible.

It was a joy to see what can be, and is being done to transform the future for these children. The biggest problem at the moment is storage of the standing frames – they are desperate for some more storage – preferably very close to their base at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital, Oswestry.

For more information:

www.the-movement-centre.co.uk

Warwickshire and West Mercia Probation Care Trust, Hindlip

First ever visit to Hindlip – what an incredible place! Sitting in with the trustees of the Probation Care Trust who look after and distribute funds to individuals in the care of the Probation Service to try and reduce the reasons for and therefore chances of reoffending. There is a focus on items that the recipients cannot otherwise afford, or get from other sources, with a view that genuine acts of kindness make so much difference.

Very positive feedback from the probation service officers in attendance

Cara Munrow, Red Cross senior regional fundraiser.

The red cross and sister organisations have literally millions of volunteers across 191 countries working to prevent or ease human suffering. They are the largest humanitarian organisation supporting people in the UK and across the world to get the help they need when crisis strikes. In Shropshire, they fundraise through events and their high street shops, they support vulnerable people through the national helpline, alleviate loneliness, source mobility aids, prescriptions, transport and help at home, as well as help for refugees.

They are always looking for charity shop volunteers, working on the shop floor with customers, creating displays or sorting and pricing donations.

They are also looking for volunteers to join their trained emergency response teams – providing practical and emotional support at a moment’s notice when crisis strikes – be that flooding, fire or bad weather, they set up support lines and rest centres and work with the fire service to support the victims of a fire or other emergency on a rota to provide 24/7 cover. Across the UK the Red Cross respond to an emergency every 4 hours. There are also community reserve volunteers for whom there is no minimum time commitment and minimal training – they are only called upon if there is a major incident.

For more information or to apply:

www.redcross.org.uk

Mark Charlton, Telford and Wrekin Virtual School for Children in Care.

Mark is the Education, employment and training officer NEET and post 16 and passionate about his new role finding purposeful opportunities for the young people in his care.

The core purpose of the Telford and Wrekin Virtual School is to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of their children. Working with all relevant partners in education, health and social care to ensure that the children’s opportunities in school are the best they can be. They offer support, guidance, training and challenge to ensure that children in care receive outstanding education and are prepared for adulthood, employment and training.  

That being said they have their work cut out for them. Care leavers make up to 27% of the adult prison population at any one time despite less than 1% of under 18s entering local authority care each year. It is a fact that we live in a country where a care leaver is more likely to end up in prison than go to university and that must require a bold response from all of us.

How can you help? Sign up to the Care Leaver Covenant which is a national inclusion programme that supports care leavers to live independently and relies on local organisations to provide opportunities. The Council has 7 promises “to help young adults, aged 16-25 to be individual, safe and healthy, help fulfil their ambitions, build strong relationships, develop independence and ensure they are listened to, respected and valued.” To help young people leaving care and support the promises, the council is looking for businesses, organisations and charities that can offer their time and support in different ways from training opportunities, job preparation or discounted offers and goods to name a few.

It has been said that when our young people leave care they just fall off a cliff and that is because as a society we don’t wrap our arms around them and plug the gap that is left by the lack of parents or family – they need that wider corporate family.

For more information or to sign up:

twcareleavers@telford.gov.uk

Opening of Health and Wellbeing Festival Market Drayton

Privileged to open this festival in Market Drayton where there is such a powerful sense of community and so many opportunities for local people to step up and make a difference. Approximately 30% of voluntary sector work in Shropshire is in health and wellbeing – and many were represented here today :- The Alzheimer’s Society, Armed Forces Outreach Support, ArtsFest, Christians against Poverty, Arbonne Products, Healthwatch Shropshire, Landau, Market Drayton Library, Rotary, McCarthy and Stone, Midlands Air Ambulance, St John Ambulance, Safe Place Shropshire, Samaritans, Style Optique, Waterways chaplaincy, garden organic, Home Instead, the friends of the Grove School and the Methodist Church were all represented among many others.

The Festival was organised by the Market Drayton Community Enterprise CIO under the auspices of Eric Davis – the CIO aims to provide facilities, activities and opportunities to help persons of all ages to lead fulfilled, healthy and active lives by tackling the causes of loneliness, lowliness, rural and urban social isolation. Among other things, they put on several festivals throughout the year, championing the work of the voluntary sector.

There were wonderful opportunities for volunteering – singing for the brain, with dementia patients, becoming a “master composter” with garden organic, hiding 800 easter eggs for the lonely and isolated, or working with the waterways chaplaincy to keep people safe on and near our waterways.

For more information

www.marketdrayton.org.uk

Unveiling of Covid Memorial Market Drayton

Stunning glass sculpture donated to the town by the MDCE and the Drayton ArtsFest Teams. It is the result of donations received from members of the MD community who organised events to help fund the 2021 Arts Festival in Drayton which was cancelled due to Covid, so this is a very fitting way to use the funds and recognise all those who gave so much to their community during the pandemic.

Mahatma Ghandi said that “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members” and Market Drayton certainly measure up.

The memorial is “Dedicated to all the NHS, care and key workers in Market Drayton”

Members of Longlands Primary School sang the Gary Barlow song “sing” absolutely beautifully for us after the unveiling.

VCSA Annual Meeting

No time to do more than quickly call in to this extremely well attended meeting for an hour or so, where I listened to a really interesting talk by Professor John Wynn-Jones about the All Party Parliamentary Group findings on Rural Health and Social Care and the need for an overarching, place-based rural strategy to address rural health inequalities. It is not news for most of us, but the absolutely vital need for the voluntary sector to supplement and support the NHS was at the forefront of his messaging.

Facts and figures from 2021 1,929 registered charities and more than £700million annual charity expenditure in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

This year there has been a focus on climate change, equality and diversity, and digital inclusion. The Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly is for all people running voluntary organisations and they welcome new members.

For more information

www.vcsvoice.org

British Empire Medal Investiture.

We attended to witness presentations by the Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner. The British Empire Medal (BEM) is awarded for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community. This includes a long-term charitable or voluntary activity, or innovative work of a relatively short duration (three to four years) that has made a significant difference. The citations were read out by Deputy Lieutenants Rhoddy Swire and Clare Crackett for 5 incredibly deserving individuals whose honours were awarded in the New Years Honours list for 2022

Rev Wayne Davies, of Ludlow – For services to the community.

Rabinder Singh Dhami, of Hadley, Telford – For services to Fire and Rescue.

Nesta Hill, of Bishop’s Castle – For services to the community.

Rev Keith Osmund-Smith, of Telford – For services to the community.

Karen Sawbridge, of Bridgnorth – For services to grassroots Rugby Union football, and to the community.

Wonderful people get nominated for wonderful awards!

Willowdene Graduation.

Met Dr Matthew Home, staff and graduates from Willowdene Rehabilitation and volunteers from AICO. I shared the stage with Director Matt Home and members of staff and students who presented. It was an emotional rollercoaster, as we heard the words time and again “you saved my life” and they were not trite words, they were said with heartfelt, tearjerking sincerity.

For more than 30 years, Willowdene has been a pioneer of innovative rehabilitative solutions for men and women facing the complex issues that stem from a life filled with factors including offending behaviour, homelessness, poor mental health, substance misuse, and general disconnection from community and society at large.  

Through their innovative rehabilitative pathway, targeted training, wrap-around support and social enterprise activities, they provide men and women facing a life filled with hopelessness an opportunity to take control of their future and build a life filled with purpose, intent and confidence. It is quite literally “life saving”.

There are volunteering opportunities here – and of all the places I have seen so far, it is one that I will come back to and want to be part of, but more helpful would be to give opportunities to some of the students who are leaving. They are supported, they are willing and they need to be given a second chance – either to volunteer, or to work. If you have openings, particularly for part time work to start with, or volunteer opportunities, they will be extremely grateful.

For more information:

www.willowdenefarm.org.uk

Landau, Official Opening of new Training and Enterprise Centre.

Attended with the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner, Sir Edward Tate (DL), Cllr Amrik Jhawar (Mayor of T&W), Stephen Reynolds (Mayor of Oakengates) Cllr Anthony Lowe (former Mayor of Wellington) and CEO Sonia Roberts, and employees to be shown around this amazing new facility in Wellington – with bespoke areas for learning construction skills, hairdressing, beauty and wellbeing, topping up on academic learning and much more.

Landau is a supported employment and work-related training organisation that aims to provide people with learning disabilities or long-term health issues, the long-term unemployed and young people, with the skills and support they need to find sustainable employment. Landau is a registered charity, committed to ensuring that every person with a learning disability has the opportunity to work. In a place that is striving to allow learners to achieve the best they possibly can, here are more great opportunities for young people looking to improve their employment potential.

You could mentor someone through their job search; you could show off your creative side and provide learning support in one of their courses;

For more information:

www.landau.co.uk