Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Squirming for Molesey Bookworms

Last night, I spoke at the Friends of Molesey Library AGM about my experience of writing books and newspaper columns. A great local throng turned up, and they grilled me with questions afterwards. They were a really fun crowd. 

The Friends do a fantastic job of supporting Molesey library, and it was a real pleasure, in turn, to be able to support them a little. My thanks to Pauline Morozgalska and Steve Bax for the invitation, and to John Coope for moderating a great evening.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Grill Your MP!

We are fast approaching my next series of local public meetings - organised to give residents across the constituency a chance to raise any matter of local, national or international concern. The next meetings will be:
  • Thursday 12 Feb – Holy Trinity Church Hall, Church Road, Claygate KT10 0JP
  • Monday 16 Feb – Long Ditton Village Hall, 2 Ewell Road, Long Ditton, Surrey, KT6 5LE
  • Wednesday 18 Feb – St Mary’s Church Hall, St Mary’s Road, East Molesey, KT8 0ST
All the meetings start at 7.30pm and last up to 2 hours - I hope you can make one of them!
Saturday, 17 January 2015

Elmbridge Community Fund

I have blogged previously, here, about local efforts to develop the Esher Neighbourhood Fund, to support the Lower Green Community. Having raised around £100,000 to start a fund yielding an income that can be used to offer grants for local projects in Lower Green, we have been discussing how to take the concept forward and expand it across the borough of Elmbridge.

The inspiration has been the strong evidence, charted by the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS), here, of pockets of deprivation in an otherwise relatively affluent borough. These pockets are often overlooked because of their scale, and we want to do something as a community to support them. If it's tough as a family or individual getting by on modest means, it's even tougher if you're surrounded by high levels of wealthy people and homes.

The issues arising - from neighbourhoods in Molesey to Walton to Cobham - include child poverty, lack of facilities or public transport nearby, inaccessibility of training, and the elderly living in isolation or with significant long-term health conditions. 

So, the architects of the Esher fund - including myself, Wendy Varcoe at the CFS and local volunteers - took some time to think through the challenges of scaling up our initial success in Lower Green. Yesterday, we launched the Elmbridge Community Fund, having expanded our Panel to include a range of new people with different skills and living in different communities across the borough. It's being chaired by Richard Waller, who - together with Nigel Abbott - helped drive the fund-raising for Claygate's new club house on the recreation ground. Rob Moran at Elmbridge Council has also got involved to make sure we complement  what the council is doing. 

The aim is to build up a permanent fund that can sustainably yield an income, to be made available to local community groups who can apply for grants. We are working in partnership with the wonderful range of existing charities - including big players like Walton charity, and smaller organisations - and we hope that the ECF can become a lightening rod for philanthropic giving, and a beacon of support for local community initiatives.

We need your help to build up the fund. The early stages will be the most challenging. So, please drop me a line if you may be interested in supporting this important new initiative, or want to hear more about it.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas & A Very Happy New Year!

The blog's been a bit quiet for a couple of weeks, so I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous year in 2015.

The reason for this unprecedented blog inactivity is that, on the 11th, Erika and I were blessed with the arrival of our second son, Joshua (pictured below). Mum and son are both doing very well - and suffice to say this will be a very special Christmas for our family. Normal service will be resumed in January.

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