I attended a brainstorming event at the Steyning Centre last Wednesday, to debate the development of a Local Community Network.
Dr Alex Rainbow from the Steyning Medical Practice led the discussion. At a time when the NHS is experiencing severe financial shortages it was a timely intervention.
The government has just recently combined social care and health and also appointed Tracey Crouch MP to oversee loneliness and isolation, which is said to affect up to nine-million people in Britain. Isolation and loneliness can affect anyone, young or old.
The meeting had representations from many groups and societies in our district and Dr Rainbow wanted to examine how they could interact with, and identify, people in need and how to encourage their participation in facilities for health and social reasons.
The Steyning Centre is at the heart of so many activities in the town. Residents will once more have an opportunity to discover what is available when the popular ‘Showcase’ event takes place again on February 24. Older residents have already benefited from the very popular monthly film club set up by the council two years ago. It is also time to remind people to apply for their Steyning Festival Friends’ membership. An exciting range of events is being planned for this year. It is an ideal time to think about older residents who may need help getting tickets or lifts to and from events.
The key words are ‘Get involved in a positive way’. It is so easy for some to stand on the side and criticise the council, but central government bears most of the responsibility for cuts passed down to cash-strapped councils. Social care is just one of the ways austerity policies have affected the elderly directly. Our youngsters, too. Councils are expected to do more with less.
It is not too late to make a New Year resolution to be a ‘good neighbour’, support volunteers rather than be negative, help rather than hinder, think about others less fortunate than ourselves and get involved in a positive way. Dr Rainbow should be congratulated for his efforts to improve communications with all our volunteer groups and societies. We must continue to develop the caring community and council we have in Steyning which he particularly praised in his talk.
Kings Stone Avenue, Steyning
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