One of the most rewarding parts of being a councillor is seeing the tremendous work taking place by our small, voluntary organisations and charities. Better still is our ability to help them through the members’ Big Society Fund.
Each councillor has an annual pot for distributing small amounts in their local areas and it’s been a privilege for me to meet with people in our vibrant voluntary communities.
One such organisation is Toolbar, which brings together local, unemployed people looking for work. It helps give them the skills and confidence they need to find jobs, all free of charge. They run sessions every Monday morning at Bourne Snooker Centre in Cherryholt Road. Support includes access to online computers, help with CV and application writing, guidance on interview techniques and career planning.
I was saddened to learn that one of Toolbar’s founders, Neville Hydes, has died this month. A truly inspirational man from Thurlby, he helped scores of people find jobs and had recently received awards for his contributions. Naturally, behind every great man is a great woman and I had many wonderful chats and cuppas with Neville and his wife Kate who were always keen to keep me up to date with how they were using the donations to make a big difference.
Through increasing local awareness of Toolbar, which also gained charitable status in the last two years, they saw 90 new faces in 2012 and 120 in 2013. With an average of 18 people through their doors each week, the knock-on effects of improved social inclusion, mental and general health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated.
The same praise can be heaped on many other local voluntary groups I’ve had the pleasure of helping too, including Alternatives Pregnancy Advice Centre, Bourne Arts and Community Trust, neighbourhood watch, army cadets and the cricket and basketball clubs.
I’ve also seen first-hand how the Bourne Outdoor Pool Preservation Trust has committed an enormous amount of work getting the pool ready. Don’t forget to support them when it opens soon but, in the meantime, it’s all hands to the pump and they’re still looking for local help.
So, to the smaller groups out there making a difference, we know you’re out there and want to support you where possible.
Whilst the Big Society Fund cannot, of course, help everyone, if you’re a local organisation with a worthwhile project, please do get in touch via CllrS.Woolley@lincolnshire.gov.uk