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

Signing of the Armed Forces Covenant by the Shropshire Freemasons

Great to witness the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant by the Provincial Grand Master of Shropshire, Roger Pemberton on behalf of the Shropshire Freemasons.  Lt Col Samantha Brettell and Dr Ashley Fraser signed on behalf of the armed forces and the Lieutenancy respectively.  There are 36 masonic lodges on Shropshire, but 1,000s across the UK and they are staggeringly generous.  Of all the charities in the UK only the National Lottery gives more to charity than the freemasons do.  By signing the Covenant, they are promising to support, in whatever way they can, those who serve or have served our country in the armed forces and their families.   

I felt particularly proud to be there as my grandfather was a freemason and my daughter joins the army on Sunday! 

A new Shropshire Combined Services Lodge was consecrated in January 2020 specifically for serving and ex-military men with the intention of combining some of the Military Traditions and Comradeship into the normal Masonic fabric of a Lodge, and to provide a unique and enjoyable experience for all concerned, with an emphasis on including wives, partners and family members. 

For more information:

Queens Award for Voluntary Service Meeting

Do you know any voluntary organisations who deserve an MBE? Nominations for the 2023 Awards are now open.  Every day thousands of people across Shropshire are making a difference by volunteering, and outstanding examples can be put forward for this award – the equivalent of an MBE it is the highest award given to volunteer groups in the UK and is awarded for life! 

Winners 2022 are Shropshire Rural Support, PODS, west Mercia search and rescue, east Shropshire talking newspaper. 

For more information or to apply:

Landau Celebration Event for BBO Shropshire Partners

Landau celebrated the Building Better Opportunities Programme in Shropshire with partners Smallwoods, Wem Town Hall, Crowsmill, CVS, Yellow Ribbon, Wrekin WHG, Homes plus, A4U, Hope initiatives, and Qube.  All these amazing groups have been helping people facing multiple barriers to employment to move forward with their lives with such empathy and creativity.  All sorts of initiatives and a plethora of volunteering opportunities! 

Crowsmill Craft Centre CIC in Alveley and are desperate for someone in the office to help him be more organised, but otherwise for anyone with skills who can do something with the participants – jewellery making, wood turning, what skills do you have that you can share?

For more information or to apply:  

The Qube in Oswestry have a volunteer brokerage and they have an online directory on their website, supporting about 150 charities who are looking for volunteers – including Osnosh, Hope House, National Trust and a variety of Charity Shops.  Their mantra is Community, Creativity, Care and it is their 30th anniversary this year. 

For more information or to apply:

A4U working with adults on the autism spectrum – in particular trying to support pre-diagnosis because the waiting list is huge, but there are some obvious traits that if they have they can support early.  It affects about 1% of the population – if you include families, that is about 2.8million people affected by autism every day.

A4U listen to people and develop to meet their needs supporting people facing multiple barriers and the furthest from employment, offering person centred support, they have a café that is open again now at Louise House which people can work in, do craft, and small group work and support people to access certificated training.  They also support with volunteer placements and sometimes paid work. They particularly want volunteers who can help disabled people fill in benefit claim forms – training is given.

For more information or to apply:

Hope Initiatives – grease monkeys – offers a 12 week back to work programme for people struggling to access the workplace to learn mechanics – or at least work around cars. The employability courses are every Monday and Tuesday.  May be an opportunity for a volunteer who has lots of patience and empathy but would also like to learn about mechanics!  The other 3 days they work with children at risk of exclusion from schools. 

For more information or to apply:

Visit to the Old Bailey in London

Visit organised by the High Sheriffs Association and it was a great opportunity to hear how others had got on in their first month. The Old Bailey stands on the site of the West Gate of the Roman City of London and the medieval gate on which Newgate Prison was subsequently built. Court 1 felt like deja vue sitting in the dock opposite the Judge as seen so often on TV. Wat Tyler destroyed it in Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 and it was ransacked during the Gordon Riots in 1780, finally demolished in 1902 to make way for present buildings.  It has 18 courts, handles some 1,700 cases per year and costs the City of London corporation some £9million each year to run.  Because of its enlarged jurisdiction and facilities in 1834 (The Central Criminal Court Act) , it attracted the most notorious of criminals, the most odious of crimes, the most eloquent of advocates and some of the finest judges. 

Daily some 2,000 to 3,000 people pass through its doors, some 700,000 per year.  Since Saxon times the two Sheriffs of the City of London have, uniquely been elected by the citizens of London and have been concerned with the administration of justice – their primacy was displaced by the election in 1189 of the Lord Mayor who became their boss. 

Joe Lockley Bright Star Boxing

Believe, Belong, Become (Boxing, education and mentoring) boxing and peer support to address trauma, mental health, confidence, anger, self esteem, school exclusions, addiction, fitness etc. with amazing success.  Futures for school non attenders and those at risk of offending, Counter punch for men with mental health issues and Empower an 8 week programme for homeless/addiction recovery.  Stay True for youngsters at risk of child criminal exploitation. 

Bright Star Boxing started when Joe was asked to give one young person some boxing coaching.  He had not coached boxing before but said he would give it a go.  Three of them started coming to him and as much as they enjoyed the boxing, they also started opening up about their problems, and it became clear to Joe that boxing could be used to express what was overwhelming the participant, and gradually the use of cognitive behaviour therapy alongside boxing has helped many young people to deal with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 

He currently has 415 on his programmes/open sessions – many carry on at the club in open sessions after they have finished the programmes. 

Desperate for funding for a one year post to manage 15 full time staff and 36 volunteers, so Joe can get around the community and grow. Then there will be a need for more volunteers.

Boxing is a kind of magic. It gives discipline to the wild. Strength to the weak. Confidence to the shy” – Wladimir Klitschko 

For more information or to get involved: 

Andrea Fox Shropshire Council Culture and Tourism Manager, Jane Trethewey Assistant Director Homes & Communities and Clare Featherstone Head of Culture, Leisure & Tourism 

Tourism is a significant component of the Shropshire economy. It attracts around 13million people each year, supports jobs and helps attract inward investment. Pre- pandemic Shropshire’s tourism industry generated £470m in visitor spend and supported 15k jobs (2019). 

We have the third largest number of rights of way in the Country 5,500km – They would stretch from Shrewsbury to New York if they were in a straight line – bigger than the roads network. 

Shropshire is a predominantly rural county with a number of highly attractive towns such as Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Oswestry, Whitchurch and Bridgnorth, nationally significant natural assets such as the Wrekin, the Long Mynd and the River Severn, two World Heritage Sites of Ironbridge and Pontcysyllte.   Shropshire Council have nearly 70 sites/venues in their management and would not be able to deliver what they do without volunteers. 

Shropshire Museums and archives support over 100 vols at their sites annually. Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, Shropshire Museums Collections Centre, Much Wenlock Museum, Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, Coleham Pumping Station, Shrewsbury Castle. Volunteering activities include front of house duties, helping with family activities and events, and specialist curatorial roles. At Coleham Pumping Station, steam enthusiast volunteers help to run regular visitor open days and keep steam engines in exceptional working order and there are student work placements. Onsite volunteering projects within the archives include cataloguing letters to Lady Berwick in the Attingham collection, sorting news cuttings, calendaring 18th century Quarter Sessions papers, improving the descriptions of photographs or volunteering from home to index rare early returns, or fire insurance policy books 

60% of the County is covered by a Parish Paths partnership so wherever you live you are near one. 

Work includes: monthly group walks, maintenance, creating and promoting Walking routes, reopening lost/blocked paths, detailed path surveys, landowner liaison, working parties to install new infrastructure, liaising with Shropshire Council Outdoor Partnership Team Rights of Way Officers, running a Facebook page, producing a monthly newsletter, and being a point of contact for walkers’ and landowners’ queries.  900 volunteer hours were contributed in 2021/22. 

27,000 volunteer hours across Parks and Open Spaces in 2021.  Many volunteer groups are formally constituted and raise funds to improve the parks.  Severn Valley Country Park has the largest group, with two sessions per week each attracting 12-15 people.  Opportunities include helping with wildlife survey work, events and school visits, Seasonal tasks include path clearance, woodland management, repairing benches, bridges and boardwalks.  Weekend and mid-week volunteer sessions are available 

There are heaps of library volunteering activities in 21 libraries – Summer Reading Challenge Volunteers, Help organise and/or deliver children’s activities, Talk to children about books and help them choose new ones, Gather feedback and promote library events, Help deliver children’s activities such as Storytime, Rhyme Time and craft activities, Talk to children and their parents about children’s activities, Gather feedback and promote library events 

Digital Support Volunteers offer one to one support to people aged 65+, and ad hoc support for anyone needing help, Help people develop skills and confidence in using IT with ‘Learn My Way’, Offer support with computers and mobiles, basic internet use, online gov services, social media, photos, finding health information, online shopping, job searching, lifelong learning, signposting to advice, and helping with ICT promotions. Home Library Service Volunteers deliver and collect books for customers in their homes, books aloud volunteers assist in the preparation of themed readings.

For more information or to get involved:

Rebecca Blount Recharge Telford

Rebecca started working as a substance misuse worker in Telford for under 18s and once they were 18 she had to stop working with them, but felt that they just dropped off a cliff.  There were lots of great young people but with nowhere to go.  There is a real therapeutic value of being around other people who are in recovery, so she decided to do something about it. Recharge Telford is all about lived experience – the mentors are trained and qualified but they “get it”.  They deal with self harm and Mental health issues and hidden harm (eg living with a parent who is an addict). 

Volunteers train to be mentors, there is a training pathway to nurture them as a volunteer and then they may move on to co-facilitate a group etc.  and she has lots of student counsellors and social workers on placements.  They are a CIC and looking to build a board now – what a wonderful place to be a trustee and make a difference.

5,000 people in Shropshire are alcohol dependent and in need of specialist treatment but only 20% can access services because of rurality or lack of funding, and there are more than 2,300 crack cocaine and opiate users living in Shropshire. Most addicts are mums or dads, have jobs and live outwardly normal lives – it does not discriminate between young and old, rich or poor.  It is the third biggest killer next to cancer and heart disease in the world.  9% of adults and 20% of 16-24 year olds take drugs. 

For more information or to get involved:

Julia Baron Community Resource

Julia Baron retiring from Community Resource (as the RCC is now known) after 22 years decided to walk the Shropshire way (10-15 miles each day) fundraising and meeting organisations and services that have been supported by Community Resource during her tenure.  The walk is to highlight the support they have given across the county, celebrate her legacy and raise awareness of their continuing work.  I joined her half way down the Wrekin and walked back to Sunnycroft in Wellington, a hidden gem of a National Trust house with a wonderful and rare Halliday Conservatory recently restored. 

Community Resource offer hearing loss support, sight loss support, help to keep active, care and share (dementia support groups) wellbeing resource and information hub, wheels2 work, oil buying club, charity trustees network, advice for community support groups, good neighbours, community buildings directory, shropshire community fund grants, energy saving advice, and village halls advice.  They are always looking for volunteers to help with these important missions.

For more information or to get involved:

Shrewsbury Town Council Mayor Making

Attended the Annual Council and Mayor Making Ceremony at the Walker Theatre, Theatre Severn, Cllr Elisabeth Roberts who has been a stalwart of the Jigsaw family group – a non-judgmental group who support families and children with autism, adhd, pda, teenage depression and anything else that causes social isolation in a friendly environment. 
Coffee mornings 1st Monday of each month at Shrewsbury coffee house 10-12pm. 
3rd Thursday of each month at lantern, in conjunction with IASS. 
The family activity group is held at Grange Youth Club Shrewsbury,2-5pm on the last Saturday of the month.  Activities include: sports, arts, crafts, sensory play, computer area, chill out zone and snacks, in a safe, welcoming and non-judgemental environment, helping children with social interaction and stop parents feeling isolation.  There are 3,500 people with autism living in Shropshire.

Elisabeth has been involved with emotional support for people with autism, bringing forward the lived experience of families and children, youth services, Harlescott grange community hub, Shrewsbury mutual aid group, supporting pupils with a barrier to education and helping them to educate the educators.  Her intention is to bring all communities together in her year.  Working together, listening caring and supporting each other and having fun. She has her 3 children (including 2 autistic twins) to help her and support shrewsbury youth and mental health services.  

During her mayoral year, she will be supporting Harlescott Grange Community Hub which helps to support local residents and Omega Care, an organisation that has provided a variety of mental health support to both Shrewsbury and Shropshire communities, especially during the lockdowns 

Deputy Lieutenant Honours Panel

Meeting with the Lord Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenants to consider nominations for honours in the County. We are lucky to have such a proactive group who seek out, research and actively support applications.  There were some incredibly deserving individuals discussed.

Re-opening of the Willey Wanderers Cricket Pavillion

New ladies teams and about 40 All Stars (5-8) and Dynamos under (8-11) every Friday now, going from strength to strength.  They have recently had some work done on the Pavilion to tidy it up and make it more welcoming for members and guests – and improve its use as a community asset. This was officially opened by Eve Jones today. Now fundraising for a new roof, but also looking for more cricket players – to play and to help with the excitingly large number of young people.

For more information or to apply:

Meeting with Ken Sloan Harper Adams followed by the scholarship awards.

What an absolute powerhouse we have on our doorstep – in fact well within our County! As the population grows, so do our demands on the planet. Managing this resource has never been so important. Since it was founded in 1901, Harper has been designed to meet this challenge. Set on a 494 hectare farm, they are the leading specialist university tackling the future development of our planet’s food production, processing, animal sciences, engineering, land management and sustainable business.

The world does not know how to feed itself and at the same time keep the planet replenished and nourished. KS has aspirations for HA to nationally influence policy, teach the Government that field to fork is not a rural issue, it is also a health issue, and an economic issue. He wants to be not only a regional but a national hub of expertise in areas of tech, diet, nutrition, animal health and human health and for HA to be part of the tech/data revolution – the 4th industrial revolution but the key part is reconnecting back to the land with innovation and solutions.

They have a place where the cows literally milk themselves, they work out what order they go in, machine does it all for them.  They are working on making outputs and outcomes from animals less destructive. 

They have the school of sustainable food and farming in partnership with Morrisons, NFU and McDonalds – one of the most influential brands on consumer behaviour and consumption.  Purpose is to have a national movement to educate the farming community, develop talents, influencing and building collaborations.

Harper future farm is a test bed for technology and natural processes.  Then connect to other farms and scale it up and influence practice and sustainable performance

KS is very grounded in his sense of community and keen for HA students to engage more with the local community and offer to help/volunteering, so they are always on the look out for opportunities. 

The scholarship awards followed.  A very impressive £500,000 shared between 141 students out of 648 applicants.  The scholarships are a mixture of work placements, supported final year, tuition fees and sometimes jobs.  Amazing opportunities for young people.

For more information or to give a scholarship:

 Crimebeat Meeting first event at Stuart’s Stable

Representatives from St Laurences’ Church Ludlow, Police, Crossbar Alternative provision, T&W virtual school, Cleobury Mortimer benefice, Lacon Childe School, Scouts, Youth Parliament, Family Solutions T&W council, Fitzroy Academy, New Reflexions Group, Recharge Telford. 

Principle issues raised around young people not engaging with services, sick of professionals and new initiatives which are the same but rebranded; funding running out; transport and cost of transport; territorial issues; representation of community being worked with; safe spaces; social media; knife crime; toxic trio of domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems; lived experience; post covid mental health issues spiralling in young people and parents; increase in eating disorders and self harm due to social media and online culture; gangs in school; trust, boundaries.

 For more information:

To get involved:


QAVS Meeting

Meeting at Methodist Church in Ludlow for briefing by Vee Lillis DL about applying for a Queens Award for Voluntary Service, and Platinum Award this year. Presentations from two previous award winners Church Stretton Good Neighbours Care Group which has 140 volunteers and transports to medical appointments, mayfair meals 30 a day 365 days of the year and 3 lunch clubs with 25-40 people run by same person for 33 years; and Stretton Focus a community magazine with 88 volunteers and circulation of 1,600 a month. It is all about being “led by” volunteers and the impact on the community. 

For more information or to apply:

Citizen’s Advice Telford and Wrekin Louise Cross and David Shelmerdine

Citizen’s Advice (rather than CAB) Providing advice to people who have reached a crisis point.  They are a completely independent local office of Citizens Advice (there is another one in Shropshire and a National one in London with the framework and tools that they subscribe to). 

No one else sees so many people with so many different kinds of problems, and that gives a unique insight into the challenges people are facing today. With the right evidence, they can show big organisations – from companies right up to the government – how they can make things better for people.    

They also help with a holistic and rounded approach to individual problems. They are open to absolutely everybody and although there is a broad extent of help, what sets them apart is the quality and extent of the advice, they have 4 people with a law degree, and a pool of advisors.  It comes with challenges, even when the economy was strong, they have never met demand and it is considerably greater now.  The mix of staff to volunteers is about 50:50 staff to vols in terms of people.   90% of the advice they give is over the phone but a significant 10% who physically need to come face to face.  They do a lot of advice on debt, signposting, council tax, smart electricity meter readings, benefits, grants and benefits to help pay energy bills and fill some of the gap where legal aid was.  The problems are growing but the pool of people there to support them is not… can you give a few hours in an evening to advise over the telephone?

One in Ten of us will use citizens advice in our lifetime.  Citizens Advice nationally helped 2.45 million people last year. There were also over 60 million visits to their online advice pages.   Volunteers can be there to support other volunteers, or recruit them, poster campaigns etc., fundraising, research, advice and support for clients, media, trusteeship. 

A problem shared is a problem halved – do you want to know more about disability benefits – they will teach you and then you can help others.  

For more information or to apply:

Mayor Making Bridgnorth Town Hall

Attended the Mayor Making in the historic and beautiful Bridgnorth Town Hall.  Karen Sawbridge took over the chains of office from Sarah Barlow as Mayor, and Rachel Connolly was appointed Deputy Mayor.  Akela Alice Pritchard was awarded the Civic Award and Becky Peters the Davies Shield. 

There are 16 councillors working together as a team for the good of Bridgnorth, Karen’s two charities for the year are the Bridgnorth Lions and the Bridgnorth Food Bank. 

For more information or to get involved:

Visit to Telford Magistrates Courts Angela Channon

Met with Angela Channon Chair of the bench and two colleagues who kindly showed me around the family court and the Justice Centre which houses all the other courts. Magistrates are volunteers who hear cases in courts in their community. They can hear cases in the criminal court, the family court, or both. Each case is usually heard by 3 magistrates, including a magistrate who is trained to act as a chairperson, and a legal adviser in the court gives advice on the law and makes sure the magistrates follow the right procedures. There are 85 magistrates in Shropshire, 28 of whom are family and they sit for a minimum of 26 half day sessions a year to keep qualified.

All criminal cases begin in a magistrates’ court, but they pass the most serious crimes (for example murder, rape and robbery) to the Crown Court. Magistrates decide if the defendant should be kept in custody or let out on strict conditions – for example to keep away from named places or people; and they deal with crimes like minor assaults, motoring offences, theft or handling stolen goods. They can issue fines, give community service, or prison sentences of up to a year. Magistrates can also hear cases at a family court, where they deal with cases about children and they can arrange for a child to be taken into care or put up for adoption, help separated parents make arrangements for their children, enforce child maintenance orders or make court orders to prevent domestic abuse

They do this, despite horrifying statistics like 25,000 knives and sharps being removed from court and tribunal buildings in the UK in a year, 26,000 tools and 88 firearms. It was a fascinating tour of the courts and many questions answered. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who sit in them.

For more information or to apply:

Meeting with Dave Courteen at the Shrewsbury Club

The ITF world tour W100 is coming to Shrewsbury in October and the idea is for it to be promoted as “Shropshire’s Wimbledon”. The Shrewsbury Club has 5,000 members 1,800 of whom are children – under 16s are free if adult member alongside them.

Tennis has been described as a zero calorie brain food! Playing tennis can improve critical thinking, mental alertness, and tactical thinking by making connections in the brain. It also helps regulate serotonin which is linked to functions such as sleep and appetite, not to mention keeping you fit and reducing your chance of suffering a stroke, or cardiovascular issues, approved agility, flexibility and balance and a good 2 hour run around on the court with a friend burns an estimated 600-1320 calories!

Fulfilling a desire to be more inclusive, the SC have more outside space now and yoga dome and are building a tennis dome with two further courts to pay as you play for those who do not want to be or cannot afford to be members. They do outreach for schools subsidised by LTA and are putting to one side 200 school tickets during the ITF week for children to watch and have a go at playing. Another 200 children from years 10 and 11 are invited to a careers in sport day, looking at all sort of things from commentating to media, player management etc.

The ITF tournament is the biggest tournament in the UK outside the lawn tennis circuit. Players will be in the top 100 seeds worldwide. In order to host this prestigious competition, they are looking for associate sponsorship packages (£500 for advert in programme and on media wall and tickets to watch).  They will also be looking for volunteers to man the welcome desk in marquee, court stewards, supporting players to and from changing rooms, music for ambience, tournament transport etc.

For more information or to apply:

Share Alcohol Event Jane Mackenzie

Share Shrewsbury was launched by former Shrewsbury mayor Jane Mackenzie after she lost her daughter Amy, aged only 37, to addiction. Share aims to fight the stigma around alcohol addiction, make the public aware of the latest research in the field, and give a voice to the friends and family of anyone who is suffering with alcohol dependence.

19.3% of the adult population in Shropshire drinking at harmful levels, this equates to a staggering 48,636 people aged 18 years plus whose alcohol consumption could be impacting on their future health and well-being.

Inspired by the kindness shown by those in our local community, Share offers support and advice to those seeking recovery, and their friends and family. Recognising that that the road to recovery can be difficult, they offer small grants to help solve some practical problems along the way; and an important part of their work is to support the friends and families of those with addictive behaviour, in order for them to help their loved one. Share gives them a voice through friends and family support groups, activities which encourage mental well being, and by providing them with information and advice, signposting and referrals to local drug and alcohol services for the specialist treatment they need.

The charity held an amazing two day conference titled “Alcohol – Sharing the Truth” and since it was virtual, it is still possible to visit and listen to all of the amazing speakers.

Over the two-day conference you can hear about the latest breakthroughs in research and treatment of alcohol dependence, best practice in recovery, and how families can be central to this, the evidence that shows that alcohol is the world’s most harmful drug, and the stigma which exists towards anyone suffering with alcohol addiction, demonstrating how this stigma means that many dependent drinkers feel such a sense of shame that they do not come forward to help until it is too late. The conference challenges the view that sufferers are responsible for their own welfare.

It is called a family disease because it affects everyone around the sufferer, causing distress, anxiety stress and heartbreak. Jane felt that if she had been given a chance to get involved in her daughter Amy’s care, and shared her knowledge and experience, then her chances of recovery would have dramatically increased. “It’s high time that those who are ‘experts through experience’ become part of the recovery team.”

Very dependant on volunteers and looking for help in the Share Shop, running awareness raising stalls, helping with groups, administration in the office or making cakes for their regular public meetings.

To listen to any or all of the speakers at the conference:

For more information or to get involved:

Meeting with Andy Begley CEO of Shropshire Council

They are in the process of putting together their Revised Vision – with key objectives, and areas of focus – the health and wellbeing of people, of the economy of the environment and they all impact on each other.

Discussed the value of volunteers to Shropshire’s social and financial economy. Shropshire is a net importer of economically inactive older people and net exporter of economically active younger ones. Very valuable experience and skill sets to be offered to the third sector from the new arrivals.

Three focus points were prevention being better than cureearly intervention is a real focus and working in new and different ways with people, community interest groups, volunteers, flexible spaces, social prescribing and aiming to reduce costs and improve outcomes that way.

Discussed Crimebeat as he was majoring on preventing problems and that is what Crimebeat is trying to do.

Discussed Young people struggling to access employment, and how volunteering can provide a valuable first step – Enable is an award winning service which was established 30 years ago as a specialist mental health employment service, but has since expanded to include employment services for all disability groups. Proven track record of ensuring that clients find the career path that suits their interests and skills, ultimately providing employers with suitable candidates for the job, firmly believing that employment improves health and builds self-worth, as well as bringing financial and social independence.

For more information

Sight Loss Shropshire Celebration of 100 years

The charity has been going for 100 years and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with sight loss wherever they might live in Shropshire and whatever their age. The President Mrs Penny Whitley and Vice President Mrs Gill Halliday and Treasurer Wendy Robert are all retiring – the first two having served 18 and 32 years respectively, so there was a joint celebration of over 50 years of volunteering by them, together with grateful thanks.

Volunteers chat about services, or organise activities for peer support groups, social events, training sessions and befriending phone calls. They provide help and support from the hospital door when an individual diagnosis has been received, with signposting and a warm, welcoming environment – giving independence, confidence and the opportunity to join in.  There were 18,500 with sight loss in 2019 in Shropshire, and 24,000 anticipated by 2030. They have about 30 volunteers and are currently looking for new board members to take them into their next 100 years.

For more information or to apply:

Service to commemorate Falklands 40th Anniversary

Ably marshalled by Walter Bethell, the County Parade Marshall, Shropshire Royal British Legion and joined by Lord Hamilton DL, Cllr Raj Mehta now mayor of Telford, Cllr Ian Preece, Mayor of Great Dawley and Deputy Mayor Cllr Sally Lill to lay wreaths in memory of those who lost their lives and to pray for the Ukraine today.

The Falklands war started when Argentine forces invaded on 2 April 1982 and finished 74 days later. 255 British personnel lost their lives defending the Falklands in one of the largest major conflicts since WW2 40 years on, altogether, 30,000 sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and merchant mariners took part in the conflict. We are reflecting on the brave sacrifices of those who restored freedom to the islands, and the strap line that sums up the spirit of the anniversary is ‘Looking forward at 40’ 

Dawley Town Council put on a reception afterwards and discussed the mayors not for profit organisation called Give someone a sporting chance, which collects old and new football and sports kit and distributes it to kids, teenagers from deprived backgrounds and adults with disabilities. Giving them the chance to take part in sport. Can you donate old sports kit?

For more information or to donate sports kit:


Also met Clare Butler and Fiona Doran from Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin, funded by the Council to get views on experiences with health and social care services in T&W 2.5 employees, and volunteer board of directors, but need more volunteers to help with admin. or help with their ‘enter and view’ programme visiting care homes etc.

For more information or to apply:

Meeting with Stuart Bill Shrewsbury Police

Local Policing Area (LPA) commander for all of Shropshire. Has been in West Mercia for a year and in West Midlands before then. 5 LPAs in WM – Hereford, N Worcs, S Worcs, Shropshire and T&W all report into Paul Moxley. 3 Chief Inspectors – patrol teams 24/7 respond to calls, neighbourhood teams PCOs/beat bobbies, and Det chief Insp investigating.  

Shropshire has the worst crime – less of it, but still has it.

Domestic abuse – about 30th time on average that it gets reported before the victim is brave enough (may be financial reasons, can’t leave or lose home, children) it is a hidden crime but a real cultural challenge to change the mindset of the people in it – causes generational damage and happens in every street in every neighbourhood. Cost of living crisis will make it worse. 

County lines is a problem – more comes from Merseyside that Midlands. Lots of work is covert and hard to talk about, exposes a host of vulnerabilities. They work very well with Merseyside – May last year 21 active county lines down to 8 in January and back up to 12/13 now. Mostly Cannabis and Coke here. 

Alcohol major problem. 

Rising tide of cost of living will be big problem coming down the road. Provision around mental health is nowhere near where it needs to be.

All crime has risen since the pandemic.  Behaviour at football matches particularly bad.

Looked around the station and saw the pretty spartan cells and facilities for locking people up overnight. Amazing number of opportunities for volunteers – needed for problem solving, and to fill in all the data from the safer neighbourhood charter work. 

For more information or to get involved:

Meeting with David Williams Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College Prinicpal and CEO

Hereford Campus is one of the best further education campuses in the UK, offering outstanding learning facilities; including specialist workshops, training salons, professional kitchens and a extensive Learning Resource Centre. Holme Lacy Campus, only six miles out of Hereford, offers an attractive range of specialist land-based courses and boasts a 257 hectare country estate, which includes an arable, beef and sheep farm; woodlands; orchards and lakes. It is also home to an Animal Care Unit, Equestrian Centre and a Rural Crafts Centre; where the likes of blacksmithing, farriery and welding courses take place. Ludlow College provides an excellent choice of A Levels for school leavers. Students enjoy being part of an academically rigorous and friendly Sixth Form College where they learn in small groups and benefit from high levels of personal support. Many progress to Russell Group and other highly ranked universities. Ludlow College offers excellent modern learning facilities provided in superb buildings, which date from the middle ages to the 21st century.

North Shropshire College consists of campuses at Oswestry and Walford; the Oswestry Campus in North Shropshire offers an exciting, modern campus on a shared site with the superb, purpose-built Oswestry Leisure Centre. The Oswestry Campus has top of the range facilities including a restaurant for both professional teaching and commercial use, and a dedicated Hair & Beauty Salon. The Learning Resource Centre has recently been updated with state-of-the-art ICT facilities and has a friendly student focus. The Walford Campus offers some of the best land-based facilities in the region and the extensive grounds include mature woodlands, new tree plantations, fishing pools and a rough game shoot. It is home to an Animal Care Centre with specialist facilities to cater for 100 different species of animals, as well as an Equestrian Centre, Engineering Centre, a working farm and sports facilities.  It is the only fully organic training centre in the UK.

6 campuses catering for 16 – 91 year olds with 2,700 full time students (400 are adults over 19) and the rest are 16-18. There are another 6,000-8,000 part time on top doing everything from full a level courses to one day pottery courses. 800 apprentices, 400-500 higher education degrees. 

Discussed assisted volunteering and benefits of volunteering for NEETs – do independent living skills – for people with learning difficulties – work with Derwen who have a site there.

The college are actively working on the mental health benefits of volunteering and changing their policy from September this year, with 5 staff workdays, they want to share this and eventually assess the social value in the volunteering days used. They are using the “good for me, good for FE” platform (a new initiative to help staff connect with their local communities and collectively generate £1m of social value).  Fabulous opportunities for staff, and their young people already do a lot of volunteering and work in the community, but always looking for other avenues too. 

For more information or to apply:

Telford and Wrekin Policing Area Commendation and Awards Evening

Holiday Inn Telford with Superintendent Jamie Dunn, Chief Superintendent Paul Moxley and Asst Chief Constable Rachel Jones. Also present Chief Inspector Helen Kinrade, Chief Inspector Rich Bailey and Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Woods.

A real privilege to share in the evening. Special thanks were given to family and friends for making it possible for the police to do what they do.

Chief Inspector Commendations for PC Steven Powell, PC Khizer Mehmood, Lauren Dorsett and PC Ian Cutler, T/DC Rylie Maule, Det Insp Craig Smith, Det Sgt Daniel Bailey, DC Anna Rouse, DC Letitia Suarez and DC Alexandra Webb, PC David Pickering, PC Steven Powell, PC Matthew Phoenix, PC Rachel Paterson and PCSO Shane Goodman and Royal Humane Society Awards for PC Jonathan Lightfoot and PC Lucy Jones and Lynne Richards.  Despite often considerable risk to themselves, and indeed some of them were injured in the course of duty, many of them were very young and despite a lack of experience, they still saved lives, apprehended criminals while off duty, and brought justice where it was deserved.

They are the ones going towards a problem, or a crime being committed, not running away from it.

An inspiration to us all, and we should be grateful to them for making our County a safer and better place.

For more information: 

Shropshire Charity Network virtual meeting

The group holds free and informal quarterly meetings for people in Shropshire working within the charity sector and those keen to support not-for-profits in the county.

It gives people a platform to make new connections within the charity sector in Shropshire.  Many people in Shropshire either work for small-medium sized charities or work remotely for national or international charities and often lack the support networks that are available in larger cities. The events give attendees the opportunity to discuss the potential to signpost service users to other organisations locally; to share ideas and discuss challenges; to offer support and advice to others in the sector and to explore the opportunity for collaborative working.

There is a presenter at each session and they have covered topics such as Social Media for Charities, HR and staff wellbeing, Fundraising and the Impact of Covid-19 and Trustee Recruitment and Retention in the past.  

I shared the platform with Wayne Flynn from Flynn creative who gave a talk about the importance of brand clarity and consistency. I gave a talk about my year as High Sheriff and my hope to promote volunteering opportunities so that they are more accessible to more people and more people will be able to enjoy the mental health and other benefits of volunteering as well as Shropshire the County benefitting from the time and skills that they give.

It takes a community to have a community

For more information or to join the next group:

Meeting with Sue Hodgetts to discuss refugees in the Broseley Bridgnorth area

There are 5 or 6 Ukranian families in our area at the moment and more are coming soon. She is working with churches together to make sure there is a hub and trying to source money for visits/entertainment. 

Heather Ireland CEO Shropshire Mental Health Support

Shropshire MHS was established in 1974 and provides a wide range of quality services across the county for the one in four people and their families, who are affected by mental and emotional distress. They help to bridge the gap between being unwell and full independence for the people who use their service. Some people need support in many areas of their lives, whilst others in just a few. Some people need support for long periods of time and others for only a short while.

Their vision is that everyone has the right to live equally with others and to enjoy a good quality of life and they help to enable people who use their services to play the fullest possible part in their own communities and their own recovery, working together in partnership with people to make sure that their right to make choices is preserved. They are also striving to reduce the debilitation, alienation, stigma and social isolation experienced by vulnerable people living in rural areas.

There is a Shrewsbury based daily drop in, which runs seven days a week and offers people the chance to relax in a safe, nurturing environment and enjoy taking part in social activities. In addition, they offer a range of groups in Shrewsbury, including Mindfulness for Wellbeing, Reconnect (wellbeing group), Road to Recovery, Women in Mind and Hearing Voices. Our services also extend beyond Shrewsbury to a number of outreach groups held in Whitchurch, Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Market Drayton. These groups operate on a drop in basis and are run by their excellent team of volunteers. Shropshire Sanctuary was established in June 2017 and provides support at the time of need for people experiencing acute mental health crises, on a referral only basis, operating 365 evening’s and nights a year and provide person centred listening to support people in de-escalating their mental health crisis. Shropshire Sanctuary helps save lives and has so far saved public services nearly £4m and has supported nearly 900 visitors.

Shropshire MHS operates with a small team of dedicated staff and large team of exceptional volunteers who contribute in many different ways, from working with a team supporting groups and activities, to running events, helping with publicity and fundraising, or assisting with administrative tasks in the Shrewsbury office. Shropshire MHS’ daily ‘drop in’ service and all the groups that they provide at Observer House, as well as the coffee shop in the Redwoods Centre and the weekly groups around the county are all facilitated by volunteers, they are the lifeblood of the organisation.

There are two walking groups and a creative writing group, but it is the case that almost anyone could offer to volunteer almost any skill and they could create a group around it.  Do you have a hobby or skill that you love doing and could share?

For more information or to get involved:

Wayne Flynn In Tune Radio

INTune Radio CIC has been founded to serve and reach Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin communities, businesses and charities; and to essentially bring back local radio to our beautiful county. It is the only independent community radio station in Shropshire and features interviews with inspiring local people, and showcases local bands next to international artists, to create a dynamic mix of beats and discussion. They are committed to connecting people and encouraging new collaborations. So far he has about 2,000 listeners and the station runs from 8am to 6pm every day. He has a reach of 40,000 on social media.

Wayne is working with local charities and communities to help raise their profile, along with local businesses who have a product, service or event to sell. Radio advertising is now within reach for many businesses who can also benefit from their unique integrated digital marketing approach.

Their radio shows are produced locally by the people of Shropshire, who are a team of volunteers, to produce radio for the people of Shropshire.

In order to bring attention to the fabulous work our local charities do each day – and so that the county, the UK and the world see they are here and to learn more about them. They want to create an annual innovative event to mark their charity day where they focus on local charities to help them generate much needed attention and generate funds. They are working with specialist brand and marketing company ‘Sent into Space’ to create a unique and exclusive show stopping event for the charities. Along with the journey they will present each brand in space – amazing shareable footage, and record a 15-second advertisement for them for free which they will then play for a whopping 60 days! INTune Radio will be the only online community radio station to travel into space taking local charities with them this Autumn.

The intention is for the whole station to be run by volunteers, he has about 40 at the moment, but needs technical support, and volunteers to do social media, researchers, building relationships with celebrities, interviewers and presenters. The intention is that there will be a proper support structure for volunteers with training and there is no need to volunteer more than 2-4 hours a week. Stunning opportunities for volunteers with stars in their eyes!

For more information or to get involved:

Meeting with High Sheriff’s cadet James Watson  

To consider his powerpoint presentation about how to deal with fuel poverty and homelessness in the County. There are homeless support plans elsewhere through SJA where they bring all the services together in a county, he is carrying out further research before working up some operational delivery plans. 

Shropshire Women’s Institute Picnic in the Park for Queen’s Jubilee

There are 109 groups in Shropshire and around 3,000 members. The Association of Women’s Institutes ACWW is the largest international rural women’s organisation. The network covers 80 countries and supports projects where women share skills and have lifelong learning opportunities and establish community led sustainability.  Born in 1929 still relevant in 2022.

The sub-committees organise events ranging from quizzes and darts, a range of talks from fracking to alternative therapies and rambles and farm visits within Shropshire and outings to theatres and other attractions. They organise classes and competitions in crafts and the arts, and at the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show, they have classes – competitive – for WIs and for individual members.

Each year the WI runs campaigns.  WI’s are encouraged to submit ‘Resolutions’ which are then reviewed by National and shortlisted for WI’s across the country to vote on.  These are then debated at the National Annual Meeting and if passed form a campaign. They are currently lobbying for more equality of treatment for female children with autism.

There are really three aspects – social, campaigning and learning. There were lots of people from all over the county at this special Jubilee event, most of whom had joined for “fun and friendship” and many of them are stalwarts in their local communities helping out wherever help is needed.

For more information or to get involved:

Shropshire Society in London Jubilee lunch at Sweeney Hall Hotel Oswestry

The Society currently has around 250 members. It was founded in 1750 and re-formed in 1899 with the aim of welcoming Salopians to the capital and ensuring they immediately had a network of friends in London. It was also set up to promote our county of Shropshire “ to spread sociability and cheerfulness”, to renew old associations, to preserve records of interesting and historical events, and also to give any Salopian who hit a bad time a helping hand financially by assistance from the Benevolent Fund. Today, in changed times, they donate to causes and organisations rather than to indivduals.

At the Annual Dinner on the 10th May 1926 it was stated that the Society objectives are to “Remind each other what their county means to them and to seek inspiration from its memories and history. Loyalty to Shropshire and local patriotism.” In 2019 they celebrated the society’s 120th anniversary with a Civic Service at Shrewsbury Abbey.

The SSIL also present the Captain Webb medal to “recognise examples of extreme courage in saving life” by people in the county. Webb was the first person to swim the English Channel. In 1875, he swam from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours.

Today the Society continues to be about bridging the gap between Shropshire and London/Home counties and spreading a bit of good. They meet at various events throughout the year and it was great to join them and to give the Loyal Toast at their Platinum Jubilee Lunch.

For more information or to get involved:

Service at the Abbey in Shrewsbury for unveiling of Covid Memorial

A beautiful service to commemorate the pain and suffering of so many during the pandemic but also to thank those in the Community who pulled together to get us through. The Covid Memorial by Paul Kennedy took 4 hours to get from the door to its resting place, where it will be for at least the next 10 years. It contains an absolute wealth of symbolism – reflective as well as projecting hope, public facing on the one side and inner reflections on the other, fingerprints from the diverse community affected by the lack of touch. It is coated with 23.75 carat gold leaf on one side and the plate itself is 1.2m in diameter. 

Meeting with Kirstie Hurst-Knight Portfoliio holder for Children and Education Shropshire Council

Prevention and early intervention are at the forefront of current policy and objectives. The meeting was principally to discuss Crimebeat and how to engage with school leaders. We agreed that she would kindly include some words from me in the newsletter that the Council send round to all school leaders which will hopefully begin to get them engaged and thinking about it.

Crimebeat meeting Second event at CVS offices

Representatives from T&W CVS, YMCA Wellington, New Generation Coaching, the Children’s society, Telford Minster, Shropshire YFC, SYA, Energize, schools, Love Wellington/Love Bridgnorth, police, Shropshire Youth bench, HS cadet 

Key issues raised post covid generation lack of motivation and resilience, increased anxiety and stress, post code wars, increase in knife crime, impact of bereavement, waiting lists for help, lack of safe spaces, negative effects of Social media, links between school exclusion and exploitation. 6,000 young people engage with youth clubs every week in Shropshire, More to do with those who do not.

For more information:

To get involved: