I must admit to listening to Classic FM on the way into work and back home again. I used to listen to the news on Radio 4 and found that I would get wound up by whatever the main story was that day. The format of generating an argument between two opposing camps wore me down. Listening to classical music takes a lot of the angst out of the drive and sets me up nicely for either the day ahead or for when I get home.
Last week though was a little different. Classic FM and its sister stations turned over a lot of the programming to their annual charity drive, Global’s Make Some Noise, a national charity that helps to change young lives. They do this ‘by supporting specially selected projects up and down the country, which deliver life-changing work to youngsters and their families in their communities. They are often small, operating on a shoestring, or tackling an issue that is little understood.’ In other words they give a voice and support to smaller organisations that often struggle in the hyper-competitive world of charities.
I thought about Make Some Noise last night when I was at Stanley Area Action Partnership where partners and individuals come together to try and make a difference to the people of the area. There are councillors, public representative, people from the Police, fire and Rescue as well as Derwentside Homes, the local social housing company. I go along as an officer representative from Durham County Council. Occasionally I get to talk about some initiatives, in particular Smart Stanley and Digtial Durham.
The meetings are focussed on neighbourhood issues and how we can support, either financially or in kind, groups that are trying to support individuals. Just like in Make Some Noise, these groups can be small and have difficulty in getting their stories heard. They all carry out vital work though and the area would be a much worse place should they cease to exist.
Three groups came to us last night to tell us about what they do and to ask for support. Wellbeing for Life is about improving health and happiness through greater involvement in the local community by making people aware of the opportunities that are available to them. Loneliness is one of the biggest social issues that we face.
Wheels 2 Work is a moped loan scheme aimed at helping people get over the initial problem of getting to work or training where no suitable alternative transport exists. Being a rural county where public transport can be a challenge at times presents specific problems to those looking for work.
The Workers Educational Association was at the larger end of the scale. It is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education. They believe that learning is for everyone and can be life-enhancing and life-changing by improving health, self-confidence and creating positive changes that ripple out from individuals to communities. They also have a special focus on people who want to improve their lives and communities.
At times the AAP can feel a bit ‘South Riding’ but last night three groups came that were making a difference to the lives of the people in Stanley and beyond. It was a pleasure to hear what they were involved in and I am delighted to say that all went away with what they had asked for.