Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Work and Play

The morning started with the first meeting of a small group from the Western Area Partnership to discuss more detail of how we should spend our money from the Communities Fund. It's a new experience for us to have any money to spend so though it is only a small amount we want to be certain that it's spent in the best possible way to help people in our area. It's aimed at helping people into work, something which isn't a problem for the majority of people in our area but is a big problem for a smallish number. We realised that one part of the area had 16% unemployment which is quite staggering in a part of the borough usually labelled as affluent. It was good to sit round the table with these figures and be able to talk about doing something positive. We're looking at the possibility of organising an event to bring together potential employers, unemployed people, training providers and benefits advice. It feels particularly appropriate at this time of economic downturn.
Then a walk in the autumn sun to look at the grass area in Larch Crescent. Residents tell us it's still the venue for teenagers to kick a football about, damaging gardens and generally being a nuisance. The shrub bed planted earlier this year now is a challenge to kick the ball over. Again it was a discussion of partners on how to deal with the problem - residents, housing officers, councillors, people responsible for planting and maintaining such areas all wanting to work together to make life more bearable for the people who live round there.
This afternoon's meeting of the Play Partnership heard lots of positive updates on bids for money that have gone in to government and on some that have been successful. Plans for the mobile play facility that is the result of lthe spring's successful lottery bid sound really exciting - a vehicle with hooks along the side so that slides and ropes can be attached! Facilities inside for cooking as well as playing whatever the weather. And masses of exciting equipment just ready to be off loaded and played with. The only problem is going to be that we'll only have one and it has to go round the whole borough so children will only get to play on it once in a while. Still, it'll be a marvellous experience when it does arrive in a locality.
After that I went to a training session on the importance and impact of design in planning. It wasn't just about building design but also about design of spaces and how the buildings relate to each other and to the space around. It was very interesting to have the discussions and I was sorry that I had to move on before it quite finished in order to get to my nect venue: Arc.
This was the annual awards night for the children being looked after by the local authority whether in foster homes or in residential care. It's always a good night, good to see so many young people who've come through the traumas that brought them into the care system Good to see their achievements being recognised. And good to see the relationship they have with those who work for them and with them.
And finally, a quick bite to eat before the Local Party meeting. Much to discuss and some very positive things happening, including the preparations for the European Parliament election.

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