Lakenheath Fete

On Saturday, Lakenheath held its annual village Fete, pulled together by the hard work of the Lakenheath Playing Fields Association. Lots of the clubs based in the village organised stalls and were raising funds for their groups.  It’s a great event, where residents either volunteer on the stalls or come along for a fun few hours.  It’s also a chance to catch up with old friends and see just what is going on in the village.  There is lots written, and I do mean lots about community cohesion and resilience, how we connect older people and facilitate activities in communities to deal with social isolation and loneliness.  Some of it is somewhat theoretical but here on Saturday in Lakenheath; you could see what we need in all communities, real people connecting, enjoying activities and take part.

Way back in 2011, I started the Suffolk programme called ‘Supporting Lives, Connecting Communities’ if you want to be technical, it was and is about asset-based social prescribing rather than the more traditional needs-based analysis approach.  In practice, it came about because of a lecture I attended and a hunch that Suffolk Council did not know the full extent of what social support and activities existed in a place beyond the social services, provided that person met the council’s needs criteria. Today it’s embedded into the working practices, but at the time it was a revelation. We hired a hall in Felixstowe and put up posters around the town inviting community and charity groups to come along and meet the council.  At the first event, we found 138 groups we did not know.  And by directing people to such groups across Suffolk, we have these past eight years saved millions and millions of pounds in social care costs as people find support and activities that deflect them for high-cost services which frankly are not as good for their health and well-being either!

So, for all the local government and central Government debate, let’s have more flowers clubs, more lunch clubs and more ‘Men’s Shed’ projects like Lakenheath’s great E.P.I.C. Dads support group.  And let’s encourage our businesses large and small, like Lakenheath’s Little India restaurant, to be a part of our communities and support residents.

For more details on E.P.I.C. Dads please email:

For my part I am working to get a Men’s breakfast club going in Lakenheath, a simple event where men can come along and have a fry up together on a Saturday morning once a month and perhaps one of those coming along can give a five mins talk about a subject dear to their heart.  Watch this space.

LGA CWB TLAP BCC – how’s that for Local Gov speak!

TLAP LogoToday I reach a small milestone in my blogging as this is my 300th blog, probably does not mean much to you but it seems a long way from when I first logged into word press, set up an account and well had a go. If you’re one of those kind people who follow it, thanks for reading. I do try to be as brief as possible, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Hopefully it gives a bit of an insight into the things I get involved in and am passionate about.

Speaking of which, last Wednesday I was in London representing the LGA Community Wellbeing Board at two meetings firstly the Building Community Capacity steering group and later at the TLAP Board Meeting. I wanted to be a part of the Building Community Capacity work as it is very much what I started in Suffolk as we came up with the Supporting Lives Connecting Communities Programme (SLCC) about how the Council can develop services that communities truly need that compliment rather than crush the work that existing in Communities now and to help build community based services where there are none. In short how to delivery more services to an ever growing number of people who need care services but with less money with which to do so.

In the afternoon, the main Board meeting took place, where I am able to give the programme a sense of what Local Government and Councillors need from the various work streams and how the reports and initiatives its provides and funds can help Local Government can make its services more relevant and personal to those who need them.

The latest papers to shortly be available from their web site and being launched at this week’s National Adult and Children’s Conference in Manchester are called ‘Shaping the future- information, advice and brokerage in the context of the Care Act’  – essentially 3 reports co-badged with ADASS, DH and LGA to support the Care Act implementation.

I’ll pop the links to those papers up when they are on the TLAP website, the other recent ones that I think are useful reading are:

‘Getting Serious about personalisation in the NHS’ – Partner publication to the IPC (integrated Personal Commissioning) with ADASS LGA and NHS England

‘No Assumption: a narrative for personalisation, co-ordinated care and support in Mental Health’ – with National Voices and NHS England

‘A Wealth of information: your questions on personal health budgets answered’ – NHS Confederation briefing produced in partnership with TLPA

Political Determination

Mildenhall Lodge opening

Mildenhall Lodge opening

Last Friday I attended the official opening of the New Mildenhall Care Home built by Care UK to replace the former County Council home at Wamil Court and what a splendid new facility it is.

Care UK will open, over the coming months, 10 similar new care homes across Suffolk investing some £60M in the process. As per my promise when I visited every single one of our 16 ageing care homes to meet with residents families and staff, in my former role as Cabinet Member for Community and Adult Social Services, all of those residents in Suffolk County Council’s former homes who wish to, will transfer across to a wonderful new home supported by the county council, that is now happening.

At the recent political training sessions I was involved in for both Director of Public Health and Directors of Social Services we talked a lot about what motivates a Councillor to get involved and of the ‘quality’ of Leadership.

I put forward my personal view that whilst there are many reasons people enter politics, I entered to firstly represent my community which I work hard to do and secondly to make an actual difference. It is all too easy to appear to be busy, fronting this and that decision or policy when in reality those would have been Council policy and decisions irrespective of if you or another person from your own or another party was fronting them, the council would make those decisions if you were there or not and there are many of those.

In respect of Supporting Lives, Connecting Communities, a number of great new mutuals delivering outstanding services to some of the most vulnerable in our Suffolk community, at costs lower than before (thus protecting front line services) and in respect of the replacement of all of Suffolk County Council’s care homes with something to be proud of, I was the key political decision maker. Of course I was ably supported by a great officer team who made it happen and colleagues who backed me but it was my political vision and determination often in the face of quite challenging opposition that made these things happen.

That, to my mind is the great challenge of being a Councillor, to have made an actual difference, rather than simply serve your time, to be a journey man if you will. In doing so you’re not always going to get right but at least you will have made a difference.

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