Notes from our Open Meeting 6th March

Our second meeting of the year was held at Emmanuel Church at The Mount, local resident Maurice welcomed everyone and opened the meeting. The format was a little different this time with no agenda so we went straight into the discussions and ideas raised from the floor.

Sandra lives and works in Fleetwood and is part of Wyre Council’s ‘Clean & Green’ team. She is supporting two other residents, Beverley & Gail, to set up a litter-picking group for the town centre. They will meet on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from May, starting at Leftmove estate agents on Lord Street who have also offered to store the equipment. Anyone is welcome to join the group after a short safety session and there’s no need to commit to every week. There are also plans for other sessions as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Spring Clean’ campaign in April. Sandra welcomed anyone with ideas for new clean and green projects to get in touch.

Maureen told us about the wonderful Just Good Friends Fleetwood group and their many activities to combat loneliness. The main session is at the Highbury Social club near the football ground on Tuesday mornings when they meet for tea and talk with new members always welcome. They also meet at Fleetwood Library on Monday afternoons for board games; at Wetherspoons, London Street on Thursday mornings for coffee and chat; organise a monthly Sunday lunch, a monthly breakfast and regular outings – their Turkey and Tinsel is already booked for this year! To find out more see the Just Good Friends Fleetwood page on Facebook.

Maureen also spoke on behalf Rachel and Sian who set up the Invisible Illness group for those suffering the effects of conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis and mental health. They meet on Thursday evenings from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Fleetwood Fire Station for mutual support. Again, new members are welcome to join the group.

Dave also wore two hats! First he introduced himself as a volunteer for Lancashire Police’s Cyber Security Team. They provide training and advice on how to spot and prevent on-line and digital scams which can not only lead to financial issues but as a result often affect the victims health and wellbeing. Dave can deliver sessions to groups of around 10 or more about the subject and invited anyone to attend an open session at the North Euston Hotel on 27th March for the Fleetwood Civic Society. Bespoke events for groups and businesses can be arranged and tailored for adults or a younger audience.

Quick change and Dave was the co-ordinator for Fleetwood’s fantastic Festival of Transport and Spare Parts Festival. This huge event now attracts around 70,000 visitors to the Town and plans for this year, on Sunday 21st July, are well underway but the committee is made up of volunteers and extra help on the day or in advance is always welcome and appreciated.  The Spare Parts festival, which is now 4 events – Fleetwood, Crewe, Sandbach and a new location Oldham – offers anyone interested in working in the arts an opportunity to gain useful experience and of course have some fun.

Tony brought us up to date on the Fleetwood Mens Shed and the timing was sadly, very appropriate. Recently the Town has seen 4 suicides, men and women, highlighting the need for the community to work together and provide support for anyone needing help. It’s felt that men in particular won’t open up and say they are struggling so the new group was there to be somewhere for support without any judgement. From a slow start there is now around 20 men turning up each week, Thursday mornings at the Pavilion, Memorial Park for a cuppa, game of dominoes, to listen to a guest speaker or just for a chat – often the most important thing we can do is just be available to listen to somebody. The group is looking for other premises to give them more flexibility on opening hours, activities etc but support from the community and local businesses has been amazing so far. There is a Men’s Shed Fleetwood page on Facebook for the group if you want to find out more.

Dr Spencer spoke next and had planned to tell the meeting about an award nomination for Fleetwood but like everyone in the room was moved by the topics that had been raised. He said that it was vital that everyone and in particular healthcare professionals listened to what residents said and were open to working in new ways to offer support. Everyone can play their part and Just Good Friend, Harmony & Health singing group, the gardening sessions, the crochet group, the Mens Shed and many more were great examples of what could be achieved. It didn’t matter what the activity was or the reason for people coming together, it was being there, the ‘connection’ between one person and another that made a difference and could even save lives.

The Healthier Fleetwood movement began 3 years ago giving residents a voice in decisions affecting their health and acting as a point of contact for the community. About the same time the Fleetwood Primary Care Home network was being formed to bring together doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, opticians, the mental health team, recovery support and many more. The two groups overlap and work together and the results are starting to come through with a drop in attendances for A&E and hospital visits from Fleetwood against the national trend which is rising.

The HSJ awards, issued by the journal of the healthcare service, have just been announced and nominated Healthier Fleetwood Primary Care Home for an award to recognise innovation in Resident Empowerment and Service Integration. This follows a successful 2018 for both the Primary Care Home and Healthier Fleetwood with several awards and nominations. Mark pointed out that while awards were nice it was not as important as working together locally but the national recognition suggested Fleetwood is certainly taking positive steps to make a difference.

The meeting ended with mention of the Fleetwood Voice performance last month. Following several months of video and sound recordings composer John McHugh of Music In Mind created an original piece of work which was performed live by the Liverpool Philharmonic at Marine Hall, part of an evening that also saw many local residents sing and play music reflecting the Fleetwood Voice. The project had been part-funded by Regenda Homes and supported by all partners within the Town to create something special that residents could be extremely proud of. (If you missed the live performance, see the feature from BBC’s Inside Out programme on You Tube.)

And that was a good note to end an emotional, thought-provoking but ultimately very positive meeting about the community of Fleetwood.

Our thanks to everyone who attended, to John and the team from Emmanuel for their continued support and we hope to see you all again and many more at the next meeting, Wednesday 3rd April.

To get in touch with any of the groups or individuals who spoke at the meeting please see the links above or contact Healthier Fleetwood and we will be happy to connect you.

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