Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Waterloo Primary School visit the Town Hall

It was good to welcome pupils from Waterloo Primary School to Bootle Town Hall. We have a well organised tour for young people including a quiz and a question and answer session.

The pupils were drawn from the School Council, Eco champions and anti-bullying leads. I always find that primary school youngsters are the most inquisitive. They ask the questions that come into their head. This makes for a much more interesting and challenging time.
As part of the quiz they have to identify things in the Council Chamber. To their credit this group out performed the question setter. When asked to identify all the birds in the room they noticed a whimbrel -one of our coastal wading birds -that we had missed !.And when they were looking for bees they noticed one on the stain glass window with the Burnley Coat of Arms that had also been missed.

After the tour of the council chamber we went into the Mayor's Parlour and the Mayoress's dining room and the pupils had the chance to dress up in Mayoral robes and ask lots of questions about the Maces and the moyoral chains. In the picture one of the pupils is carrying the Mace used by the former Crosby Council and another the silver oar presented by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board the Bootle County Borough.

Monday, 20 March 2017

German exchange with Range High School in Formby visit Southport Town Hall

It was a pleasure to meet students from Range High School and from a school from Bavaria in Germany who were involved in a school exchange.

They all packed into the Mayor's Parlour at Southport Town Hall at beginning of a tour of the building. We have a well-rehearsed tour of Bootle Town Hall but the Southport one is still of a bit of a 'work in progress'. As we were gathered in the Parlour I was able to show them some of the historical regalia from the Southport County Borough including the Mace and Mayoral chain. We next visited the council chamber. The students from both schools were full of interesting questions and we discussed the difference between a burgermeister and my role as Mayor here. In the anti room to the chamber there is a 'rogue gallery' photographs of former Mayors dating back to the mid C19th which stimulated a lot of discussion.

It was an excellent tour, the special ingredient was the interest shown by the students from both schools

My visit to the charity Nugent in Formby

I recently accepted an invitation from the charity Nugent to visit their services in Formby . I met Sister Benedicte at Clumber Care Home which cares for vulnerable children and young people of all ages and Tony Saleh, Principal at Clarence High School which provides education for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, including those on the autistic spectrum.

It was a privilege to meet Sister and Tony, and to learn more about the work they do. It’s inspiring to see how passionate they and their staff are and to hear about the kind of difficulties some of our young people face. These two services give so much support, hope and love to help the young people realise their ambitions. 

Nugent is a great organisation, which offers a diverse range of support to adults and children at the heart of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Opening Stedy Chefs new Cookery School for young adults with learning difficulties

 I left the Southport Foodbank and went to open a new Cookery School on the Dunningsbridge Rd. This project has been established by the Stedy Chef catering agency a business that is well established. It was a delight to meet the new trainee, young adults with learning difficulties, who have come from all over the region to sign up to the training on offer. The enthusiasm of the new recruits was infectious. They were already hard at work preparing a buffet when I arrived. Whilst they got on with the preparation I met some of the families and supporters of the young people. This project clearly fills a big gap in provision. The young people were receiving job training in a proper work environment and they were being prepared to get proper qualifications. This is a far cry from many of the unrewarding training schemes on offer that lead nowhere other than to enrol onto another training scheme.
The food was excellent especially the newspaper wrapped mini fish and chips.

The project is situated in the managed workspace/ storage unit run by Rent a Space who are clearly very supportive landlords.

I hope this project enjoys the success it so richly deserves

My visit to Southport Foodbank

Some of the many volunteers at Southport Foodbank
I started my day with a visit to Southport Foodbank housed in a church down by the north end of the Marine Lake. This is a major voluntary effort and draws its support from across the community. The churches play a significant role in collecting food, recruiting volunteers and managing the project. Local supermarkets support the scheme and along with special events these three sectors provide most of the resources. But it doesn't stop there, schools, youth organisations and individual donations are important. On my visit I was told about the involvement of the 58th Southport Brownie who helped collect food at Tescos before Christmas. They returned to the Foodbank to help label and stack the bumper Christmas collection and I understand they followed that through in February with further work at the project..

Demand remains high with December 2016 being a particularly high month and though they are seeing a slight drop off in demand from single people that is more than compensated for by the increase of support to families. The foodbank ahs no taken on welfare benefit advice for its clients and it was good to meet the volunteers involved. They intend to have an adviser at each foodbank session across the Southport network. Benefit delays and changes were the cause that led lmost a third of the foodbank's users to its doors.

After the volunteers has shown me round I joined them for a coffee overlooking the Marine Lake. They have plans for further work. Our town is fortune to have such a large body of willing volunteers to carry out this work. They deserve our thanks.

My visit to HeartStone Birkdale and Ainsdale

Saturday morning I was at Sacred Heart Church on Liverpool Rd Birkdale where along with their partner parish St John's Stone in Ainsdale (jointly known at HeartStone) they were working through their priorities for the next few years. The priest Father Slingo had invited Nugent charity to show case their local work: Margaret Roper House, Clumber House and Clarence High School. I shall be visiting all these projects in the near future.

Nugent CEO Normandie Wragg introduced each project in turn and after lunch the parishioners committed to working alongside the charity. More about my visits to these projects later on.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Concern expressed about the plight of Polish people working in UK at Southport's Anglo Polish Annual Lunch

The plight of Polish people and other EU citizens living and working in the UK was raised by Andrew Otto, a respected local solicitor and the Vice Chair of the Southport and District Anglo Polish Society, in his speech proposing the toast to the guests at the society's annual Lunch .

Andrew was keen that the House of Lords should pass the amendment to safeguard the rights of folk already settled in the UK believing, as I do, that there is no risk that this will not be reciprocated.

My role was to respond to Andrew's toast which I was pleased to do. The UK owes a great debt to Polish people who came to our aid in WW2 some of whom settled here after the war. The story of how individual families were driven across Europe as first the Russians and then the Germans made them homeless in a dangerous war torn continent is one of the tragedies of the 20th century. The story is well known to the wartime generation and to those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s and went to school with the sons and daughters of those immigrants. Today the story is being told afresh to a new generation. The revival of Terence Rattigan's  play Flight Path by Trevor Nunn in 2011 with Sheidan Smith and Sienna Miller in the lead roles is an important part of that re-telling.. Since then various versions of the play has been touring the provincial theatre's of Britain. Even closer to home our own Little Theatre in Southport is staging the play. (I learned from one of the guests that a similar role was played by Polish seamen.)

That generation of Polish who made the UK their home have made an enormous contribution to our society; economically, socially, culturally and every which way. As with so many immigrant group we are far better off because of their presence. Today a new generations of Polish men and women  have come to Britain and the Society has done a good deal to welcome and support them. As Andrew Otto pointed out there is a great deal of uncertainty about their future.

One little trivial fact I picked up -thanks to one of those irritating emails- was that exactly ninety years ago on the day of the dinner the Polish nation adopted a new National Anthem . I also had a crash course on Polish pronunciation from Society chair Richard Kowalski  all of which was a great help

Finally the new Manchester based NW Consul for the  Republic  of Poland Lesvek Rowicki spoke about the changing European landscape and how that would impact on his fellow country men and women who had settled here. .

After the dinner and the speeches were entertained by a group from Manchester singing Polish sea shanties  and a few English ones they had adapted.