Visit to HMP Long Lartin with High Sheriff of Worcestershire and High Sheriff of Herefordshire 02.08.2022 

One of five high security dispersal prisons in Britain.  It has 467 inmates currently but an operational capacity of 622.  It holds category A prisoners, some of the most dangerous and hard to manage offenders in the country.  It is unique in that around 75% of its inmates are lifers and nearly all the others are serving over ten years.

Met clinical psychologists dealing with mental health and drug problems mostly and forensic psychologists dealing with anger management and changing ways of dealing with problems, but overall sense of hopelessness.  What it means to have a life sentence.

Offered help, they want businesses to give them gainful employment – used to do nets for the army and yellow daffodils for charity but nothing now – have to be safe activity.

Currently 80-90 staff short – people don’t think about prisons and what goes on inside them but they should.  We want less people there, more kudos for staff – camaraderie Is a real positive.  Saw dedication, camaraderie and calm professionalism from the incredible staff who work there.  It is not a job for the faint hearted, but there is a desperate shortage of prison officers across the country – when asked what made her do it, our guide described how fulfilling she found it to be a parent, teacher, mentor and role model.  She carries hope in an institution where there is very little, where small wins count and which the public rarely see.   

We should make the prison walls more invisible so we can admire what goes on inside and play our part in helping.  The people behind bars are all of our problem, not just theirs.  

Visit to Severn Hospice 03.08.2022 

The approach to care is to help people live as well as possible within the limitations of their illness, so they offer a wide variety of services which provide emotional, physical and spiritual support enabling you to maintain your independence for as long as possible. 

The team is made up of qualified nursing staff, complementary and creative therapists, doctors, health care assistants, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, chaplains and volunteers.   Their day services are all free of charge.  Much of what they do is community based not residential, living with a condition not just for the last few days.  It is not just cancer patients, they have a gold standard for motor neurones and their project for Duchenne muscular dystrophy was mentioned in House of Lords, people live longer so more need for symptom control, and complimentary therapies.

They get to know individuals and their families, they are allowed 24 hour visiting and totally holistic care, spiritual, family, wants and desires –

Met Joe in the garden, head gardener has 42 volunteers 18 acres here and 5 at Apley – peace tranquility and nature.  Some gardeners here 20 years. 

Worked out that if all volunteers were paid the minimum wage they would contribute £2m a year worth of volunteering (pre pandemic) volunteer army and lots here over 20 years. 

It is hard not to be bowled over by facts and figures when what really counts is the outstanding kindness and care, the emphasis on living well, and the relief for families when @Severnhospice get involved – whether at home, day care, or on a ward – as inpatient, Mary told me “it feels like being wrapped in a lovely soft blanket”. 

But the facts and figures too… 

Over 1,000 volunteers! 

80% of what they do is community based not residential 

A fundraising target of £9.1million this year! 

Each year they care for around 3,000 families living with incurable illnesses 

Every day costs £23,241 to deliver the support and £2 of every £3 has to be raised by the charity! 

They are educators, award winners and trailblazers in palliative care 

Joe, his volunteers and the wonderful gardens – open to you all – as is the Refresh café, 30 charity shops, the weekly lottery competition and the opportunity to volunteer… 

For more information or to get involved:

Meeting with Jane Bamber Transforming communities together 10.08.2022 

Introduction to TCT 

Our mission is to partner with others, seeking the common good, working for justice as people of hope, so that communities may flourish and those who are vulnerable, isolated, and disadvantaged might enjoy life in its fullness. 

Our goal is to empower churches and other faith groups, individuals, groups and communities to respond effectively to the issues of poverty and social justice that they encounter. 

Our Aspirations  

To reflect, refresh and reengage post covid with communities across the Lichfield Diocese, prioritising those communities with the most need recognising that the perceived need is not necessarily the real need. Working with the people to hear their voice, allowing them a safe space to share their successes and challenges to support understanding from the wider community to create a sustainable network of support at the right level designed by the people. 

Shared Vision for the future 

Meaningful and purposeful volunteering opportunities for all ages, volunteering is key to building back our communities but post covid we need to take a breath covid, saw waves of people step forward to volunteer but where have they all gone.

Church Spaces being used for community engagement, organisations working together to fill in the gaps which groups have the support, but no space and which space has the need but no support. 

For more information or to get involved:

Meeting with Steve Arnold from West Midlands Search and Rescue 11.08.2022 

West Mercia Search and Rescue is a completely voluntary charity affiliated to the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue. They are tasked by the Police to provide search and rescue services across Shropshire, and the rest of the West Mercia police region from their main base in Bridgnorth. Trained to carry out urban, riverbank, hillside and woodland searches. The River Severn is the main artery of their area. They operate powerboats, Swift Water wading teams and Kayaks to make recoveries, often people who had no intention of going into the water. 

1.2% of biggest charities in UK get 69% of funds 

150,000 smaller charities compete for 3.5% 

RNLI gets £118million and WM SAR operates on £46k which it raises itself.  High risk people with dementia and learning difficulties. Looking for corporate sponsorship.

If you fall in water below 21 degrees you are in trouble – River Severn is 10 degrees normally – if you can’t get out then you have 1 minute to get your breathing under control, 10 minutes of meaningful activity and 50 minutes before you go unconscious.  Can basically survive an hour, but after 10 mins you would not be able to climb out. 

For more information or to get involved:

Telford Street Pastors 13.08.2022 

I met with the Telford street pastors Keith Osmund Smith and Vicky Brain founded the street pastors on the first of July 2011. They run a three weekly rotation at the moment. They used to be able to fill all three weeks but at the moment there aren’t enough volunteers so they do two weeks on one week off, so that no volunteer does more than one every three weeks.  

The motto here as well as Shrewsbury is just stick together to be safe.  You are so much safer if you stay together and look after your friends 

Street Pastors are good at collating figures so that they can show the impact of what they do – from how many lollies they hand out to how many bottles they remove from the streets and how many conversations they have. The motto is caring listening helping. they will say that there have been lots of changes in the last 11 years very different scene to what it was when Street pastors started. Far fewer fights. They are beginning a campaign of recruitment. It takes three months to do training. They carried on in the pandemic but didn’t have any training so there were no new recruits, which is why they’re behind now. 

One of the great things about going out with the street pastors is that not only do they recognise the good in all the people that they meet, but all the people that they meet, seem to recognise the good in them. 

For more information or to get involved: 

Meeting with ROC 17.08.2022 

A meeting with ROC (redeeming our communities) –  “it empowers local people of goodwill to work together for safer, stronger communities.” The ROC is 18 years old this year. They have partnerships with many different people, but principally with police.  

They begin with an ROC conversation and to date have done about 300 in the UK. This is a Community Engagement Project, which lasts for about a year. It is about bringing grassroots local residents community organisations, statutory authorities, public services together somewhere above 200 people in the room and it is not just about crime, but social challenges, such as elderly isolation, poverty. The fuel price, the cost of living crisis, the overall well being of a community. 

There is a huge amount going on already and it is important not to duplicate effort, but to have coordinated approaches. It’s about three to six months, ringing and having conversations and meetings before the conference then the conference is the centrepiece and then six months after that they work with the action groups to make sure that they have an impact – important for it not just to be a talking shop and to actually have actual outcomes at the end of it.

In every locality, the majority of people share an unspoken aspiration: to live in a safe, strong and kind community. Many groups are working hard to deliver projects that help to address specific needs such as providing positive activities for young people, befriending for lonely people, mentoring for families in distress, practical support with food, clothing and household tasks. The surprising fact is that, in many cases, there is a lack of awareness of the good work being done and little communication between everyone. This means that many projects are under-resourced and even competing with each other.  As a neutral facilitator, ROC’s role, when invited by a specific community, is to raise awareness of the existing groups and schemes within the area and help all involved to get to know each other and affirm the good work already underway. Also to share any existing practical needs that could be met by others who have surplus resources. Then to enable round-table discussion of where there may be gaps in provision and explore creative new ways of meeting those needs in new, volunteer-led projects.  

Meeting with Anna Bowler A Good Thing 18.08.2022 

They have 490 charities signed up now – up from 200 when we last spoke,

AGT Is registered as 1% for the planet – doing companies a favour in terms of scope 3 carbon emissions – managing that includes not sending stuff to landfill. 

Kelda Wood Climbing Out Charity 23.08.2022 

Met Kelda and the group at stunning venue above Worthen, and had talk about the table legs necessary to prop up the table top of mental health.  Then went to Nesscliffe woods for abseil. Most money from trusts in grants, but also charity fundraising ball every two years and hike every year.  People come back for them, and staying in touch is important.  It is for people who have met a block in life and need tools to get past it.  Walk and talk days for anyone, helps people keep in touch as well and keeping the positive effects of the programme alive.  About 100 a year through programmes. 

It’s not about saying I can’t, it’s about saying how can I.  Fully funded places on 5 day outdoor activity programmes aimed at rebuilding confidence self esteem and motivation in people who have been through a life changing illness or trauma.  Pressing play and taking life off hold.  Developing tools to manage own mental wellbeing, empowering, fulfilling potential and opportunity to be happy. 

Helping anyone aged 18 or over who is struggling to move forward following a mental or physical trauma.  Pushing comfort zone, setting goals and surrounding herself with people who motivated her gave Kelda her life back.  “16 months learning to be a patient after I got sick, then spent 5 days on climbing out learning how to be me” 

For more information or to get involved: 

Leaving reception for Julia Baron at Wroxeter Hotel 23.08.2022 

After 23 years at the head of Community Resource – connecting, growing and strengthening it, she has certainly made a difference. 

Ukranian Independence day celebrations 24.08.2022 

Large numbers of people turned out from Broseley to celebrate with the Ukrainian families who have settled locally, with crafts, Ukrainian words, maps, puzzle, food, film etc. 

Civic Service to celebrate the Mayoralty and Multi Faith Community 24.08.2022 

An absolute audio and visual extravaganza with senior members of many faith groups praying for the Mayor and his work in and around Telford. Embracing diversity and the multi faith community.