It’s not often that you get the Assistant Chief Constable, the Mayor, the hospital Chief Executive, the Leader of the Council, the Principal of the College and numerous other movers and shakers in one room with representatives from churches, voluntary groups, business and statutory sectors for a big conversation on working together.
However that’s what happened on Wednesday 29th June at Poole’s Thistle Hotel, as over 150 of the towns leaders, influencers and charities (including Prama) and churches came together for the Poole Conversation. The first event of its kind in the area, celebrated over 300 current activities that the churches of Poole are already running in the town thanks to over 200,000 volunteer hours! This strategic conversation had the aim of looking at what still needed to be done to properly care for our communities and how we can use all the available resources of faith, voluntary, business, and statutory sectors to make things happen on the ground.
Debra Green OBE from national charity Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) was asked by Jackie Leswell, the chair of Churches Together in Poole, to come and facilitate this conversation. ROC have run over 150 of these across the country and have huge experience of working with the police and other partners to bring change to individual lives.
So, with the support of local charities Prama and Livability, the invitations went out to all sectors to join in. The Faithworks Wessex team undertook an audit of existing church activity in the community that showed a plethora of community help including at least 20 parent and toddler groups with 900 attending regularly and 13 lunch clubs with over 325 attendees.
The conversation asked “what are the gaps and big issues facing the town?” “What projects could meet those gaps?” and “What resources have we got to meet them?”
The aim was not just to talk, but to identify and prioritise projects that the attending organisations could achieve together and meet a real need for the people of Poole with the minimum of cost and red tape.
Steve Robinson, CEO of local charity Prama, the lead sponsor of the event said “In such a confusing national situation I see this is a ray of hope. We have to confront the realities of ever-reducing social care funding trying to meet ever-growing need within our communities -particularly in issues of ageing, loneliness and social exclusion. To have a day like this, where key strategic leaders and folk from the grass-roots are committing to work together, is an excellent model for the future”.