Bulb Planting at Queensway Park

On Friday 26th October and Saturday 3rd November, Nacton make a change and the Nacton Community Garden arranged the big bulb plant on Queensway Park to turn the park into a spring delight of colour. I attended both days with my children and got my hands dirty planting the bulbs with my fellow Priory Heath Residents. Cllr Stephen Ion also joined in on the fun Sunday.

Well done to Ipswich Borough Council for providing the bulbs and to the residents who organised the events, I am a strong believer that an appealing environment has huge benefits on our wellbeing and mental health. Activities such as this are extremely important to bring communities together, and this one in particular will have a long lasting impact on this community.

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Defibrillator at Ravenswood

A question was raised by a resident about where defibrillators were located in the area. Me being the curious person I am, began to research numbers and I was faced with very limited information on where they are located. I did however,  discover the shocking statistics on how crucial AEDs are.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are approximately 60,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in the UK per year. Sadly, only a small proportion of people survive. A major factor for the low survival rate is the limited access to a defibrillator in time, ideally within the first few minutes and with each minute that goes by the chances of survival are reduced by 7-10%.

Soon after the initial question was raised,  at the beginning of April, tragically a resident experienced a Sudden Cardiac Arrest and passed away. As ever with this community we all wanted to make sure we are not left without the right equipment should we need to act in the future and began to look into how we can get a 24 hour AED on the development. Having already done a little bit of investigation into this I asked to take the lead and was able to co-ordinate the various parties to achieve the objective. The money for the unit was provided by Eastravel Limited who by making such a generous donation made this task possible. I discovered a local charity Heart2Heart who have already supplied 2 defibrillators in Ipswich town center and touched base with them. They offered me all the support and advice needed and were able to order the defibrillator for us. Finally it was the location we needed to secure and was the most time consuming part. I received a few knock backs but persevered and approached the Ravenswood McDonalds who had only recently extended their opening hours so they are open 24 hours. The McDonalds management were on board immediately and after a meeting to thrash out the finer details, they agreed to not only house the machine but to cover it on their insurance and replace the battery and pads every 4 years. The Ravenswood Residents Association also offered some words of wisdom and support to make sure this task was successful. They managed to secure another location, being that of the Co-op and so we were in a great position to choose where best to house this defibrillator.

This lifesaving piece of equipment has now been installed and registered and I am now working on arranging CPR and defibrillator training for the residents. This will empower the community to have the confidence to help neighbour in need and use the defibrillator should a future Sudden Cardiac Arrest take place on the development.   My responsibilities will not end here now that this has been installed. I will be the point of contact if there are any issues and I will check on the machine once a week/once a fortnight to make sure it’s still working. This responsibility I will take on for as long as I live in the area.

This was a massive win for the community and I look forward to the next project to better the area I live in.

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Come rain or shine, we will carry on

Ah the Gainsborough Community Fun Day, an event which was supposed to be plain sailing and fun for all. We had a budget, a date, willing volunteers and summer sun like I have never seen in my lifetime. What could possibly go wrong?

My task was to arrange a Tea Dance. Though I have never arranged a tea dance before, I was full of ideas and enthusiasm so I was confident it would all be fine. I have fantastic friends who loaned or donated china to go with some items I had purchased myself. I even roped in a friend to spend her evening making centerpieces with me so the dance can be truly special. Ipswich School of Dancing agreed to help out and offered great advice along the way.  The small planning team kept in touch on a regular basis and at the center of it was one superwoman I could only dream to be like. This was all set to be an amazing event…in theory.

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Well as you know the date was changed by the council, and then the volunteers reduced, and then once we thought we were in the clear the sun went away. On the morning of the event, high winds and heavy rain greeted the few remaining volunteers and on a personal level I felt a build up of tears forming. As I arrived at the scout hut, refusing to be defeated by the last remaining hurdle by the gods, superwoman, formally known as Mandy was already there with a plan of action. She clearly hadn’t slept and was only functioning because her focus was getting through this fun day. There will be no cancellation, no children in the community let down, the fun day will happen and it happened purely because of her. We decided to use the scout hut and a local church and put everything indoors. It worked a treat and all the stall holders who came seemed impressed by the plan.

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Sue from Ipswich School of Dancing, Sam Murray and Amanda from Ipswich School of Dancing

The tea dance went ahead with great success and the area was then used for 2 amazing performers, one of which was impressed by the acoustics of the scout hut. I managed to take a moment between the tea making and co-ordinating to look around and take it all in. There were kids (and some adults) with their faces painted making bug boxes with Councillor Harsant and the Friends of Hollywells Park.  Ipswich Museum engaging with young future historians and a local hedgehog group educating locals about how to look after their environment. We also had Councillors playing bubble football during a small break in the rain, and residents enjoying tea, cakes and a spot of dancing. It was a real mix and that was only in the scout hut.

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Cllr Liz Harsant and the Friends of Holywells Park – Photo Credit Lucy Taylor Photography  

 

We estimated approx 200 people attended the day in spite of the weather and last minute changes to the date. The hard work and stress was worth it and in a flash it was over and people were asking us when the next event will be…we were at the time too exhausted to comprehend organising anything else, but now the dust has settled I am more than willing to help out at a community event again…which by the looks of it will be the fun palaces on the 6th and 7th October 2018. 

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Photo Credit Lucy Taylor Photography Facebook @lucytaylorphotography

 

Why the changes to the blue badge scheme is absolutely the right thing to do

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source ‘https://www.vocal.org.uk/news/blue-badge-scheme-extended-carers-relatives/’

On 29th July 2018 the government announced a huge change to Blue Badges, extending the criteria of who will be entitled to one from 2019. The scheme will now see people with invisible disabilities and those with mental illnesses being eligible for the blue badge. This is a change I welcome with open arms. I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome when I was 21. It’s classed as an invisible disability, it’s very difficult to prove you have due to the fact you can’t see the disability. Some days I am wheelchair bound but a lot of the times I can walk. I always find it difficult to get in and out of a car due to my restricted mobility in my hips, but to look me at me, most of the time you wouldn’t know I was disabled. I first applied for a Blue badge when I lived in Essex and I was not successful. However in Suffolk, I was able to have a blue badge which honestly changed my life. For me the badge doesn’t mean yay I can park right next to a supermarket entrance. It means the spaces are wide enough for me to climb out comfortably. I would park in one if they were on the other side of the car park if it meant I can just get out of the car. Though I already have a blue badge the changes will make me feel more at ease when I renew my badge and I won’t feel like maybe I was just lucky that one time as the criteria will be made clearer.

This announcement will also raise very much needed awareness of what disability actually is. I have had a couple of occasions where someone has seen my blue badge and they have shouted at me. The common assumption is I’m cheating the system somewhere and live off tax payers’ money adding no real benefit to society. It’s a horrible feeling to be shouted at by a stranger and told you are an awful human being because you have a disability they can’t see. I hope with these changes, more discussion will take place about what disability actually looks like.

As well as making the lives of people like me who have a physical disability which fluctuates and cant be seen, this is also extended to those with disabilities such as Autism or mental health issues. The National Autism society have spoken out about the positive impact this will have, and I truly believe it will. Since my son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the world of Autism has been opened up to me and I have interactions and friendships with fellow parents with children with Autism. Some dread leaving the house and even when we are at the stage where leaving the house isn’t the issue, it’s the fear of the unknown. Change of routines and everywhere being a lot busier on weekends and holidays especially makes for a difficult life for a person with Autism. With all the preparation in the world a family day out can be almost impossible. But with a Blue badge for some this will make their lives easier. Imagine opening a door to a child who has shut down emotionally because they are fearing the unknown. You may not even be able to touch that child and somehow you have to unbuckle their belt, allow them to get out of the car and make sure they are safe when they are climbing out of the car and into a car park. It’s a no brainer that a parking space with extra room either side will make this task easier.

As we develop as a society and we have further understanding of various illnesses our laws and schemes such as this must also develop and change to be fit for purpose. Life can be impacted by a disability even if you aren’t a wheel chair users. Mental health issues can cause physical limitations on a body. Anxiety for example can be debilitating for some. If there is a scheme which makes lives easier for people to get out of their home and live their lives it can only be a good thing and should be encouraged.

The Conservative government’s announcement of these changes is proof that they truly are acting on their promises. They promised they will look into mental health and disability and this is another example of how they are delivering on that promise. To some this is a small change, I mean we are talking about parking here, but to those whose lives this will effect, it will have a huge impact on making a difficult life that little bit easier and for that I am encouraged that this is a small step in the right direction. I also wait with hope of the future changes this government will make to better the lives of those with disabilities.

The show must go on

Further to my previous blog, I felt it necessary to write a follow up blog regarding the Gainsborough Community Fun Day. Some of you in the area will know that this fun day has now been rescheduled to 29th July and we hope to see many people attend and enjoy the day. Its been a hard slog for us organisers of the day, at times I’ve doubted if we could even pull this off. Suppliers haven’t been able to attend and many volunteers were no longer available due to the change of date. However through all of this, there have been one or two amazing and determined people who never gave up.

The focus has remained the same, provide a low cost fun day for families in the area. We wanted something for everyone and when we went through what we are providing for the day, we believe we have achieved this. There will be a tea dance at the scout hut, local singers for entertainment, free inflatables, messy play, sports activities. You name it and some how we have managed to get it. Ipswich Borough Council have also come along board and helped us fill the gaps that were left with the change of date and we are thankful for that. They have helped us in the latter stages and we may not have been able to keep going had they not have stepped up.

Now all we can do is pray for sunshine and a good turn out. I hope on the day to take a step back and be able to observe the event and take it all in. To some this is a small fun day but to me this is about a group of people truly understanding where they live and getting together to do something positive for their community. The people I have been working along side have been inspirational and have come from that strong place of positivity. On a personal level my friends have been great, some very new friends and life long friends have supported this because they saw how much it mattered to me and to receive that support has been fantastic. So what began as me volunteering to maybe help putting out some tables and just be an extra helper, has developed into much more and something extremely rewarding. To everyone who has helped so far, I thank you.

For anyone who wants to attend the day, the tea dance is being held at the scout hut at 12 until 2 and the rest of the fun day is being held on Landseer Park 1 until 4 on 29th July. Please come along and have a great day!

We need help to mend this fractured community.

I am a strong believer in community spirit and that a community can overcome most obstacles with the right determination and members of the community stepping up and working together.  In recent months and even more so in recent weeks the area I live in and where my children go to school in has been subjected to tragedy. As a community we feel pained by events of violence, one of which tragically resulted in the loss of a teenager’s life. However, the community have responded with a want and a drive to come together and repair some of the fractures.  We have had public meetings with a community pleading for help and support to do more in the area. We need direction, a hub and support from the local authorities. Yet since then, I have asked Ipswich Borough Council if members of the public can use our community centre, only to still be fobbed off in the same manner that I have experienced in the past 3 years. This issue of a community centre not actually open to it’s community was also raised at the most recent South East Area Committee Meeting with no clear answers being provided.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I have also been on the planning committee for the up and coming Landseer Park Fun Day. An event that we had for a moment wondered if we should proceed with but were in agreement that this is what this community needs right now. A fun day won’t bring back a life, it won’t stop gangs and drugs and all the other issues that we have at the moment here, but it will be a welcome break from current affairs. A place where local families can get together at low cost and have some fun. However, yesterday Ipswich Borough Council have decided this cannot go ahead. The official line is “The safety concerns and resource constraints remain the overriding concern and the view of the senior officers remains that unfortunately the fun-day cannot go ahead. “

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore welcomes the community stepping up, but it feels to me that a message being sent loud and clear by the borough council is that we will never be given a chance to step up when obstacles are continuously being put in our way. I am going to attend the Principles of Youth Work training that has been offered to the IP3 residents, but I know that to put this training into practice will be a continuous and unnecessary battle. Ipswich Borough Council and other authorities needs to also step up and give us the direction and support needed to improve this hurt and fractured community.

The World Cup, a celebration for some but tragically a living hell for others.

The world cup is now upon us and our surroundings are covered in flags. Many are excited, apprehensive and in good spirits about the world cup. However sadly along with cheers and patriotism, there will be a large spike in the numbers of people subjected to domestic violence. The numbers will vary depending on the result of the match. Lancaster University found that during the 2014 World cup, domestic abuse increased in Lancashire by a staggering 38% when England lost. When England won or drew they rose by 26%. The day after England played there was again an increase by 11% compared to days when England were not playing.

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(Image: Northumbria Police)

 

In 2010 it was reported that in Kent there was a 25% increase in the number of domestic violence related incidents which prompted a campaign ad to be launched by The National Centre for Domestic Violence. This advert shows a woman making a cup of tea in her kitchen, listening nervously the commentary coming from the living room, then the match finishes and the TV is turned off. the 25% increase stats are shown.

Since 2010 there have been a number of campaigns to raise public awareness. Police across the country release campaigns in preparation, yet we still see this tragic increase.

On 14th June 2018 the Suffolk Constabulary released the following :

https://www.suffolk.police.uk/news/latest-news/14-06-2018/football-fans-urged-have-safe-and-enjoyable-world-cup

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Image: Suffolk Police

Spreading awareness is a very important tool but so its looking out for one another. Together we can say no to domestic abuse.

If you have concerns or worries about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.