This week started off with Dave and I visiting the Wildgoose Rural Training Centre at Grimley. What a joyful and encouraging educational setting this is. It has livestock, gardens, workshops and classrooms for the students to study and enjoy. All the students we met were engaged in a sponsored walk to raise money for a tarmacked pathway around the facility – and what fun they were having at the same time! I would like to thank the staff, students, trustees and volunteers who showed us around and made us feel so welcome. Good luck and I hope you reach your target.
On Monday I was also pleased to welcome some friends into the Parlour. It is easy to forget how unique a room it is – I do enjoy sharing it with others. I can also report the Parlour saw its first streaker, little Harry Hatt – albeit he is only four months old!
This week saw another step towards the re-launch of the TalkToMeWorcester initiative. I recorded a message for the website encouraging everyone to spare a thought for their neighbour – young and old – who might be lonely and isolated and feeling down, especially at this difficult and frightening time. Have a chat directly or remotely with a neighbour, go for a walk together or think up a new and different way to make contact -you might win a Christmas shopping voucher! You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.talktomeworcester.com . Go on, give it a go.
Its been a week for recording! On Thursday I created a message for new staff and took them on a virtual tour of the Guildhall. I hope that they will watch it and have a happy and productive time with the City Council. The Guildhall is a beautiful building, which the tour demonstrated.
Winter seems to be setting in and the nights are getting longer. This is a time of year when we start to prepare for Christmas – but who knows what we will and won’t be allowed to do when Christmas comes? This is why we must all try to follow the rules which this seemingly endless pandemic is forcing upon us – with the hope that things will get easier as we approach the festive season.
I was very pleased to be able to follow up my launch of Black History Month with a visit to Worcester University this week to see a display showing significant achievements of black people throughout history. Thank you to the students for inviting me and allowing me to be part of this very worthwhile venture.
On Wednesday I was invited to take part in a new initiative created by the Vamos theatre company. Vamos is a unique company who perform in full face masks and have been commended for their excellence and skill. Inspired by the success of the Thursday clapping for NHS workers, they are initiating the Wednesday Wave when we are all encouraged to wave to someone who is alone and isolated in a care home or in their own home, to let them know they have not been forgotten and that we do care. What a wonderful idea – I felt privileged to be part of the first Wednesday Wave this week.
I was very keen to hear from Sheena Payne-Lunn and Natasha Lord on Thursday about the Worcester Life Stories project. This is an online platform which allows Worcester residents to describe their own life stories in words, photos and videos and is particularly enjoyable for those who can remember Worcester as it was many years ago, and who want to share that knowledge. Please have a look at Worcester Life Stories web page (www.worcesterlifestories.org.uk) and see for yourself what a rich and diverse history Worcester has.
I hope you have spotted the fantastic pieces of artwork in the empty shop windows that I wrote about last week. It is so uplifting to see the beautiful designs and pictures as we go about the town. Congratulations and thanks to all those artists who created the pictures.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, please take care of yourselves and others around you. Keep to the rules to keep safe.
The launch of Black History Month proved to be a very special occasion for me. I was very pleased to be part of this event and to make it a public occasion with a speech on the steps of the Guildhall; several members of the public attended.
Afterwards I welcomed some of the attendees into the Parlour and we discussed how I could help publicise other events to promote this month. I look forward to getting more involved and having more to tell you in this column.
This week I also discussed how I can assist the City Council and Platform Housing in the relaunch of the Talk to me Worcester campaign. This campaign aims to promote friendship and neighbourliness, bring people together to talk, create safe places to meet and to welcome new arrivals to the City. The second phase of the campaign was launched in January of this year and would have continued to May, but because of the pandemic the activities have been halted and we are now trying to move it forward again.
On Friday I was very pleased to open the Outdoor Art Gallery Trail, which starts in the Hopmarket. A call was put out to artists to create a piece of art on the theme of Hope and Joy. Eight artists were chosen from around 60 to create a piece of work to sit in a vacant shop unit window. These displays will be in the shops from today and can be found around the City. I do hope when you are out and about in town you will look out for them. This project has provided work for local artists and has also provided inspiration for our futures through the medium of empty shop windows.
Finally, I hope you are all keeping safe and remembering to wash your hands, keep a social distance from others and wear a face mask in all public places. It is proving to be a longer battle than many of us imagined at the beginning of this pandemic. As winter approaches we may find it harder to observe these rules, but it is essential that we do so if we are to keep safe.
Have you downloaded the NHS Covid-19 App yet? You use it to log in to places you visit and it will tell you if you have been near someone who has tested positive. If you have been, it’s essential that you self-isolate for the protection of others to stop the spread of this dreadful pandemic. I have downloaded it on to my phone because I believe it is so important that we do everything we can to slow down this disease. I hope you feel the same way too.
Once again, we held a full Council meeting by Zoom on Tuesday evening. My thanks to councillors and officers for their co-operation and patience during the meeting. We covered many topics and those councillors who wished to contribute to the debates did so and decisions were made. I find it challenging to keep an eye on 43 faces on the screen. Many thanks to officers who are also keeping an eye on who is indicating that they want to speak, so I don’t miss anyone. It’s good to know that Council business continues as usual.
October is Black History Month – an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the culture and heritage of black people in this country, as well as positive black contributions to British society. This morning I will be recording a message to promote the campaign so if you are in town at 11.00am, please come and join me outside the Guildhall.
Finally, I would like to wish all those young people who have gone off to University in the last week or two, the very best of experiences in their studies. University is a whole life experience when young people become independent and responsible for themselves as well as furthering their education. My plea to them is to remember that the present restrictions on their freedom are there for a reason. Please keep yourselves and your friends and family safe by following guidelines. Have a fantastic three or four years – but stay safe and keep others safe too.