Making the world a better place - Cllr Chris Ash, Liberal Party

Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
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Well now, another month seems to have whizzed by and when people ask me what I’ve done my usual answer is “not a lot” but I reckon if we sit and look back, we have done quite a bit more than we think.

The worry of hearing bad news from both home and abroad continues. Hearts go out to those that suffer what nature has to throw at us. It all makes you wonder, does what I do really matter?

The optimist lurking deep inside me wants me thinks things don’t have to be all bad and what we do does matter, it matters a lot .

The word “together” seems to be a catchphrase these days but it should have real meaning and real actions. Coming together is about being with people who are either like-minded or through a common interest get to know one another and interact as a group.

In spite of tragedies, there must always be a place for the good things and the Notting Hill Carnival showed us that while we must remember the bad things, we must not forget how to enjoy life. Dwelling on fears can only make things worse, and lead to a bitter soul.

I’d rather have a pint of bitter than a bitter heart, and where else can one go for the best ales around than the annual Beer Festival on the embankment. For me, it’s the highlight of the summer.

I never cease to be amazed that the Beer Festival, like so many events and activities large or small, is set up by volunteers and that from a small local festival 40 years ago, it has grown into a fantastic event where thousands go simply to enjoy the delights on offer, and perhaps bump into folk you’ve not seen for quite a while. It’s become a family event that attracts all sorts of people.

The Mayor’s team met a small group of youngsters at the Town Hall recently who were taking part in the National Citizen Service (NSC). The project is designed for 15-17 year olds to build and develop various skills.

The youngsters also invited me along for tea and a chat at the Charteris Centre on Welland and also asked me to join them for an evening meal they prepared. It was a real privilege to be asked.

I am told they had not met each other prior to joining the project and in spite of, or perhaps because of, camping out in the wet weather they come across as a good lively team, working well together.

Getting older people to go out and about, particularly for anyone with mobility problems, becomes increasingly difficult as confidence wanes.

If projects like the NCS and Duke of Edinburgh awards are about getting youngsters to become confident, so friendship clubs and groups are partly, I think, about getting older folk to regain youthful confidence.

The friendship clubs are also there as a meeting place. To get people enjoying leisure time together. Whatever your age, maintaining face to face social contact is important.

There are many worthy groups around. Somewhere there may be one for you. If not, why not give it a go with a few other like-minded people and get something off the ground, I am sure there will be others who can offer advice, and with help you are on your way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Not everyone gets out and not everyone can volunteer, though even a little involvement can make people feel useful. No one should be alone day after day, but too many are.

While it works for us our own way may not always be the best way or the only right way, we need diversity and to respect that diversity. I am convinced that by working in groups and coming together with other groups can go some way to appreciating and respecting what we all have to offer. If people worked more closely together and considered the views of others, couldn’t our world be a better place?

Let’s go for it.