Friday, 30 November 2012

Revisiting Frame of Mind

Over a year ago I wrote about Frame of Mind and here I am again, writing about a visit I made last week.

Frame of Mind is a Community Interest Company, run by Ian and Theresa Bates, which provides vocational training for adults with mental health issues or learning difficulties. About 18 months ago they made the decision to offer courses to people living with dementia.

When they decided to help people living with dementia they did considerable research and sought the advice of Graham, who is part of the Pict Group (early onset of dementia in younger people), to explain the needs and requirements for someone living with dementia. Their approach and what they have to offer recently resulted in them winning a national award -  which is a terrific and well-earned achievement.

When I visited them last week, it was great to see a group of people busy framing pictures. Certainly from talking to various people it was easy to see that they were all enjoying their time at Frame of Mind and found that it had given a sense of purpose and focus to their lives, which is just great.

As one man said to me ‘this beats sitting in front of the TV every day and I really enjoy my time here’.

This particular course is currently being evaluated. All research like this is invaluable in understanding dementia and how to positively help people living with it.

Expanding the offering to people living with dementia is a good initiative by Frame of Mind, and in doing so they are making a real difference to the lives not just of those attending, but equally important giving some time to the carers who support people living with dementia.

Click here to see the County Council’s film on ‘Dementia – The Inside Story’.
Best wishes,

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The health of our residents and High Streets

The health of our residents and the health of our High Streets dominated my diary last Thursday.

A busy day started with meetings at County Hall in the morning, then in the afternoon I was Chairing the Health and Wellbeing Board where the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for West Sussex presented their draft commissioning plans.

Then it was off to Haywards Heath as I had been invited to attend the Haywards Heath and District Business Association who had their AGM that evening, and as part of the event had organised a Panel to answer questions raised by members.

The Chairman gave a concise report of all the business activity during the year. It was an interesting summary and I thought the latest initiative for two interns to gain work experience was really practical and certainly they were both doing a good job helping out during the meeting. The association has also raised money for defibrillators and charity, so they truly are a 'business community'.

There was a wide range of questions when it came to the Panel Session with quite a bit of time spent on the challenges for our towns and how to reinvigorate them.

Town centres are under pressure due to the tough economic climate, and the change in shopping patterns with out of town retail parks and internet shopping.
Mary Portas has done a good job in raising the issues, but we all need to think what more we can do to help.

With Gary Wall, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council, Nicholas Soames MP for Mid Sussex and myself, there were the three tiers of Government to listen, learn and advise.

My thanks to the Haywards Heath and District Business Association for a very thought provoking evening.

There are many similar business groups and chambers of commerce throughout West Sussex which will all play a key role in helping improve the economy of our county.

On Friday it was a case of young people taking over. I was in County Hall and spent most of the day being shadowed by Robert (aged 21) and Robin (aged 14) as the County Council was taking part in the National Take Over Day organised by the Children's Commission.

It was good to spend time with Robert and Robin and to listen to their views, ideas and suggestions. I certainly found it a rewarding day and I hope they did too.

Best wishes,

Monday, 19 November 2012

From Car Clubs to local policing

There has been a lot of activity in the local community which has been keeping me busy and on Saturday morning I was on Chichester Cathedral green for the official launch of the Chichester Community Car Club. This is a really exciting project promoted by Chichester District Council in partnership with West Sussex County Council.

The Car Club is a national scheme and proving very popular in town and city areas. It offers those who only use their car occasionally the chance to give it up, as they have access through the Community Car Scheme to communal cars. Residents pay a joining fee of £25 then £5 per month. The member can book the car for an hour or longer. Anyone from 18 (holding a full driving licence) with no age ceiling can join the scheme.

As someone mentioned to me on Saturday, they have two cars but if they join the scheme they can get rid of one car and use the Car Club.

So less bother, saving money yet with access to a car. I think there are quite a few people in Chichester who will be thinking the same way! It is a real community facility and I am sure it will do well. For further information click here.

Throughout last Friday counting was taking place for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections and in the afternoon it was confirmed that Katy Bourne had been elected as Sussex's Police and Crime Commissioner. My congratulations and best wishes to Katy.

Like all newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) she will take up her post on Thursday 22 November, when she will have to swear an oath of impartiality which signifies the new role in local communities where she will be serving the community as a whole.

It will undoubtedly be a busy time ahead as she sets her police and crime plan, as well as the force precept and budget.

Part of the role is regularly engaging with the public and communities, as she will have to answer to the public on the delivery and performance of the police in Sussex.

There is also the Police and Crime Panel to examine the actions and decisions of the PCC. The Panel will support and challenge them when they carry out their functions, and will ensure that information is available for the public, holding the PCC to account.

So there are many new changes ahead, and it is the accountability to the communities and greater transparency which I think is a good thing.

In previous blogs I have mentioned that partnership working is vital in everything we do. The County Council has a good working partnership with Sussex Police and I look forward to working with Katy Bourne and Sussex Police in future.

Best wishes,