The Community Support Group was formed in 2013 to provide a more specific focus on the sort of welfare issues that transcend almost all the Honourable Company’s activities. The Sports Group was absorbed into it in January 2020.
Aspire was created in late 2014 as the vehicle for a joint bid by two charities, Caring for Communities and People (CCP) and People, Potential, Possibilities (P3) for a 3-year project aimed at supporting young people to live independently and access education, employment and training. Karen Morgan, a member of the Community Support Group, was appointed independent Chair in January 2015, the other two directors being the Chief Executive of CCP and the Chief Operating Officer of P3.
With the project due to end on 31 December 2017, a celebration event for all stakeholders, staff and clients was held in Cheltenham on 19 October. Here the High Sheriff, Lt Col Andrew Tabor, presented awards to some of the youngsters, one of whom, Holly, read out the poem below. Written during a workshop with the Everyman Theatre, it captures perfectly the value of this extremely worthwhile project.
The Village Gossip
At my mate’s house in Newent
- a lad with a needle in his toe,
Pins on the floor, crack pipes on the side, boxes and boxes of broken lighters,
‘You used to call me a smackhead,’ the kid said. ‘Now look at you.’
Centre of the village gossip.
My mum turned her back on me
That kid and my brother pointing and laughing.
‘No better than the rest of us.’
Didn’t know where I was going from day-to-day,
The only girl switching sofas,
Men fighting over me, giving me free drugs,
No showers, belongings all over,
Using a pink dressing gown as my blanket
- fag holes in it, but it smelt of me.
A pain in my chest that saved me.
My 30th birthday in hospital.
My mum come in, hadn’t seen her for 3 years.
She read my notes saying I was on methadone.
‘Now are you going to tell me the truth?’
I’m gathering my stuff back together,
Jolly, shiny, happy,
Making funny shapes, dancing in the kitchen
Or relaxing with Joe, the door locked,
Fresh flowers in the window,
Ornaments all round, TV on,
Drinking a cup of tea without a thought of drink or drugs
Following a successful supper held for the Aston Project, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Mason and Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller, in concert with the Honourable Company’s Community Support Group, approached RAF Brize Norton, asking the station to help provide an outlet for young people to ‘spend’ their accumulated ‘Timebanking’ credits. An exploratory meeting was held on 3 December 2014 where the staff at Brize Norton proved to be enthusiastic about the scheme; it would fit in well with their busy and well established community outreach programme. As a direct result, the first visit took place on 18 February 2015 and proved a considerable success.
A note from PCSO Morag Gordon says it all: ‘...the group that went loved the trip and all want to go back. I spoke with one of the mums the other day, and she has told me that ***** has started to talk about his future when he leaves school and has opened his mind to lots of options, prior to our trip he was not keen to consider his wider options, which is fantastic. His parents are really grateful that he was given the opportunity. Thank you so much for making our trip possible and we hope to be able to get another group together for later in the year.’
In other news, the Community Support Group is hoping to help Family Space with their move to better premises, and also assist the Nelson Trust. News of the former initiative is below.
In May 2015 Hugh Tollemache presented Sarah Avery, Family Space Manager, with a cheque for £2,000 to help with the work required in support of the charity’s move from the St Silas Church Centre to the Oasis Centre on Coronation Square in Hesters Way, Cheltenham. As of Easter this represents a new chapter in the life of the organisation. The Honourable Company’s donation will contribute towards the more than £8,000 cost of replacing old, unsuitable equipment with new in Family Space’s new home. The presentation provided Hugh, together with his wife Rosie, with a welcome opportunity to see the charity at work and meet some of the mothers and children who benefit as a result.