Looking ahead to 2022
Some contributors tell NN Journal about their hopes for the New Year
As we look forward to the year ahead we asked a number of contributors to reflect on the last 12 months and tell us about their hopes for 2022.
To all our readers and supporters Happy New Year from Sarah and Natalie x
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Radd Seiger, spokesperson for Harry Dunn’s family
Harry Dunn’s parents have been campaigning for justice for their son for 2 1/2 years. They have now finally received the welcome news that after all their efforts and help from the public and media that the legal process will be allowed to take its course, starting with the first hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on 18 January 2022 at 2pm. It is a remarkable and unprecedented achievement and I am proud of them for standing up for theirs and Harry’s most basic of rights. As the CPS made clear, I would also like to add that nothing must now be said or done by anyone to jeopardise a right to a fair hearing in this case. Our legal system is renowned worldwide for being one of the safest and fairest anywhere, where defendants are guaranteed their rights will be upheld at all times and we must all play our part in that now.
2022 is set to be another busy year for our campaign. Harry’s family still have so many questions that remain unanswered, both about what happened to him on the night he died and why they were treated so appallingly badly by the US Government who decided it was better to condemn them to a life of misery rather than doing the right thing. These and many other issues will be explored through Harry’s inquest and parliamentary enquiries.
On behalf of Charlotte and Tim, their families and everyone at Team Harry, I would like to thank everyone for their love, kindness and unflinching support for us over all this time and wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season.
Rachel McGrath, deputy CEO Northamptonshire Community Foundation
The last two years of the pandemic have highlighted the important and essential role of place-based civil society in any emergency response. During this public health crisis in spite of contending with their own funding issues and challenges with adaptation to services, local community groups and charities have met these challenges head on to meet the need of local communities providing a lifeline for especially vulnerable residents.
Local voluntary, community groups and charities need ongoing resources in order to continue aiding the economic and social recovery from COVID-19. We have sadly seen some brilliant charities and groups have to fold locally due to insurmountable obstacles pertaining to their financial sustainability as a result of the pandemic.
Additionally, we see that community groups and charities continue to fill the gaps especially where welfare policy has been failing. It is a welcome move locally that charities have been a key contributor to shaping local policy and strategy to tackle poverty through the West Northamptonshire Unitary Authorities covering Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire.
In 2022, local community leaders have a responsibility to champion the key role that, collectively what is known as the VCSE sector, plays as a strategic partner to the public sector to actively shape local policy due to their vital insight, expertise and local intelligence about the needs of local communities. I and many others will continue to play that role alongside the VCSE assembly, representing the collective interests and voice of the VCSE sector.
The work that takes place through place based civil society represents the best of us, and that needs to be recognised in desperately needed funds as well as rewarded with praise.
Ben Francoise and Nicola Butler from the Saints coffee bar in Northampton
2021 has been turbulent but overall positive for us as a business. From the low of a council dragging their heels (14 months) on reassigning the premises lease to us, to the highs of opening and seeing how well received what we have to offer is from a business and a social purpose perspective. We couldn't be more grateful to everyone who waited patiently for us to open and to everyone who's given us a try since we did.
In 2022 we plan to expand our offering as a business...so watch this space. What we really want to grow as well are our social projects, including Aspire2 with schools (currently working with nine schools in Northampton to help raise student aspirations), Coffee in the Community (to help those suffering from mental health challenges related to isolation), Women's wellness walks (name is self explanatory) and our Northampton Baristas employability training programme. We can't wait!
Father Ben Lewis, Vicar for St Mark’s Queensway, Wellingborough
I look back upon a year which was deeply challenging for our parish. We began 2021 in lockdown, with much of the community assistance which makes life bearable for many, closed. Lockdown’s hit the poorest hardest and the most vulnerable, with many problems, have those problems further exacerbated. My own church was only worshipping online although we did have some open air services as best we could, Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week & Easter all took place outside. We tried hard to support people and stay connected while many of the statutory providers were running skeleton service or off on furlough. When finally we were able to return to some sort of normal service delivery, restrictions were immense, but we knew demand was immense too, so persevered.
Young people, children on our estate, I feel have suffered greatly. Home schooling in large families with little space and little IT is no schooling, let’s be honest. Many of our young people seemed more anxious, more troubled than they did before. They returned to schools which struggled and one school in our parish responded by excluding far too many of the children which had waited to return, what a double slap in the face that was. Public services which fail to understand the lived out experience of life for many here in Queensway has been a regular challenge. We need services that fit us, not services that suit them.
The end of Summer was further punctured with the murder of 16 year old Dylan, the community was shocked, his family shattered. We tried as best we could to honour this well liked lad and to hold the community in prayer. The community rallied and ‘Off the Streets’ came into existence to challenge the cheapening of life that seemed to many, the reality of our existence. This has brought about a further engagement between the public authorities and the levelling up agenda for our community. We try to engage positively, despite the reality that left behind communities are just that because decision makers have either deliberately or recklessly left them behind. By their fruits shall they be known, Jesus reminds us. The concrete gains so far have been individual cases, piecemeal and voluntary but I’m hopeful they will continue. We need significant investment on a long term basis, especially in the delivery of transforming the lives of young people and families.
Despite the difficulties there are signs of hope, more willingness to engage, more willingness to address problems, real intention behind ideas such as a legacy bike track for Dylan, alleviating food poverty through Redeem Funds, Our Well being Coffee Shop Saturday mornings being a place where all residents can come and receive help, support, fellowship and we pray hope.
Glamis Hall continues providing vital support in their day care centre, St Mark’s is back delivering all the tenants of church, spiritual, physical, emotional. We have been reminded once again as a community that we are our brothers and sisters keepers and if someone suffers we are all the poorer for it. If we ever forget that and embrace rabid individualism we are doomed. My hope is that we have learned some lessons. Problems are deep, multi-faceted and complex, but with significant will, understanding and investment they can be solved or alleviated. 2021 doesn’t have to be played out the same way again in 2022; stakeholders can make better decisions. We’ll continue to play our part in the transformation of Queensway for the betterment of our community.
Happy New Year 2022!
Off the Streets, Wellingborough anti-knife crime group
In the short few months we have formed. We are proud to share that we have achieved the following;
Held two community meetings to discuss and identify our goals and strategy so we remain grounded and focused on what the community wants and needs
Put on a community fun day which was free to all
Delivered a strategy plan and launched it in booklet form
Attended many local primary schools delivering an interactive workshop on the dangers of knife crime
Set up our Youngers United forums for children and young people and held two sessions.
Raised funds for bleed bags and boxes in the event of an emergency
Delivered bleed bags to many local areas including two bleed boxes situated at St Mark’s Church Queensway and Hemmingwell Community Centre
Formed partnerships with local police and related charities and companies.
In 2022 we are hoping to obtain further funding via grants and will continue with fundraising to ensure as many areas as possible have lifesaving equipment in the event of a stabbing. We aim to attend all local primary schools and are working on a further programme to engage with senior schools. We are also working on a central hub/safe space for the community. We have a few other initiatives and projects we are working on behind the scenes and the team are excited to be able to launch further information about these in quarter one and two of 2022.
The OTS team wishes you a Happy New Year.
Paul Crofts, Northamptonshire Rights & Equality Council
My hopes for 2022 are firstly that we find a way to defeat this virus through more people getting vaccinated and all of us, including our government, taking honest, common sense precautions to protect ourselves and others.
Secondly I would like to see us becoming a more tolerant society, particularly towards those who have no voice - the powerless, the refugee, the asylum-seeker, the poor and vulnerable.
Thirdly, maybe the government's of the world could, just for a change, find a way to save our planet from environmental and climate catastrophe.
Finally I'd like to see people, especially young people, rise up and successfully create a democratic, peaceful, socialist society which cares for everyone equitably and fairly.
I know I'm not asking for much. But I live in hope!
A happy, healthy and safe 2022 to NN Journal and all its readers!
Many thanks to everyone who has written for us this year. We are very grateful for the support and contributions we receive from our members as without these we could not exist.