I was very pleased to receive a letter recently from the chair of the Railworld trustees and it got me thinking. I do hope Mr Pearce doesn’t take offence with me sharing the contents, but he helps me make an important point.
Brian had visited the city centre to enjoy an evening meal and wanted to share what an impressive sight the streets now are. Well, to return the favour I can tell readers I have also recently visited Railworld and was amazed with what I saw. It really is a fascinating place and environment centre, made all the more remarkable by the fact it is maintained almost exclusively by volunteers.
I think volunteering, on any level, is one of the most civic-minded things we can all do. Giving your time, often unnoticed, with the only reward being that others will appreciate your anonymous effort. Peterborough needs more volunteers. Whether you have practical skills, spare time or specific knowledge or experience, there are dozens of organisations in our city that desperately need your help. At one point I think I served on 29 different boards, associations and panels, and I must admit, I have reduced the number I support, but I still try and do as much as I can. If you are interested in working alongside like-minded community champions I encourage you to contact the Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service (http://www.pcvs.co.uk/) and also my good friend, Councillor Charlie Swift, to find out what opportunities are available.
It isn’t just volunteering we’re keen to support in Peterborough, it’s also vocational opportunities for our young people. That is why I have joined Stewart Jackson MP, Lord Brian Mawhinney and the Mayor of Peterborough to ask the government to continue to support apprenticeships. Schools and colleges across Peterborough have a proven track record of providing good apprenticeships that get our children and young people into work. The government wants to change the way apprenticeships are funded, meaning people in Peterborough might miss out. We’re going to work together to try and make the government see sense and stop any changes. I will of course keep you updated on our progress.
I echo the sentiments of the Peterborough Telegraph editor when he praised the efforts of our chief executive, Gillian Beasley, who helped an individual when he presented himself as homeless.
We have an obligation to help people when they present as homeless, and we are happy to do so. But we have to focus our attention on people from Peterborough. We cannot afford to house people who have refused help elsewhere. I am sure residents will agree with me that we should do all we can to help people, but we cannot write a blank cheque to support those trying to take advantage of our good nature.
Continuing to commend the work of our housing teams, I would briefly like to mention travellers that visit Peterborough. I understand travelling is a way of life for many and we support these groups as they need. We have health and wellbeing officers that work with them when they come into the city to ensure their needs are met. But it is also only right that travellers abide by the law and respect areas they move into. We have a strong community spirit here in Peterborough that is respectful of all cultures and religions which I hope continues. I therefore ask all residents and travellers to take pride in our local area, however long you stay here.