This week I am in Cornwall staying with friends and attempting to get on with some writing. I have two books of the go and both need a great deal of attention which alas they are not receiving!
My image of Cornwall has been that of most people; a wonderful holiday location, terrible overcrowded in in the Summer months but really excellent for those who like to surf and can’t afford to get to Australia. What I hardly realised was that Cornwall has twenty thousand people on the list waiting to be housed and some real pockets of poverty throughout the county.
Emmaus has a thriving Community in Bristol but that is as far as we go at the moment so my sights have been on this part of the world. Despite the books, I went to meet the embryonic group of future Trustees to see how we might get things moving at a slighter faster pace given the urgent need.
My friends are keen golfers and although I don’t play golf myself I went up to to the local golf club and the result was that on the 17th. September there is to be a special evening at the Club where I shall speak and introduce Emmaus to this locality.
In case there is anyone who lives within easy reach and would like to attend the details are:
An Evening with Terry Waite
17th September 2011 at 7-00 pm.
Dinner plus talk by TW At Roserrow Golf Club.
Tickets 35 pounds 10 pounds of which will go towards Emmaus in Cornwall.
Booking by telephone to: 01208 864602. The event is selling out fast so, as they say,an early booking is advisable!
Dartmoor is not too far from here and so I took the opportunity to take a day out to visit the prison where I am a patron of Storybook Dads. This wonderful project enables prisoners to record a story on either a CD or a DVD which is then animated by prisoners in the recording unit within the prison and the final result is send to a prisoners child. Its an attempt to keep families together and since we started the project in Dartmoor the scheme has spread to almost 100 prisons and has also been adopted by the armed forces. So often in the press we hear depressing tales about prisons and prisoners but there are many good and creative things happening within the prisons of our land to help with reform and rehabilitation.
By the time you read this I shall be lecturing somewhere around the Black Sea but more about that next time.
If you have less than fifteen thousand pounds and you wanted to buy a house where would you look? Well, according to a National Newspaper Burnley in the North of England is one of the cheapest places in the UK to pick up a bargain. Admittedly the home you select may need some work and there might be a damp problem but you could still find a very cheap place to buy.
I visited there recently, not to buy a property but to see the latest Emmaus Community which is the twentieth Community to be opened in the UK. I have to report that I was greatly impressed! Peter Pike, the former MP for Burnley together with his dedicated team of trustees have worked extremely hard to get a former housing complex for the elderly into a functioning Emmaus Community and I have to say I am full of admiration for what they have achieved.
It takes courage to set out to raise funds, find a property and get all the necessary permissions and there is no doubt that Peter and his group have not only got a lot of courage but they have a vision also.
Apart from the residential block, they have also taken over a former Primary School and are now in the process of converting that into a retail site where renovated goods can be sold.
I had the opportunity to join with some two hundred supporters of Emmaus at a special dinner held in the dining suite of the local football ground and there is no doubt that the people of the town are right behind this exciting new venture.
Burnley may well have problems but it has been shown that with good leadership and a positive outlook much can be achieved in the most difficult of circumstances.
Well done Burnley.
The other day I was in a very different part of the country, Cornwall. I had gone down to that lovely part of England at the kind invitation of close friends to have a little time to do some writing but, always Emmaus is to the front of my mind.
It may come as a surprise to many to learn that Cornwall has a problem with homelessness but it does! Many people drift to that part of the world for a variety of reasons and become stuck. There are groups that try to deal with the problem but more help is needed. Alan Coode a Cornishman through and through, decided that he would tackle the problem and together with a small team of supporters is beginning to see where they might begin. At the moment they have just over fifty pounds in the bank and not much else apart from the essential ingredient which is a vision for what can be achieved.
Together with my host for the week I went to visit Alan and his fellow trustees where not only did we have a good discussion as to how to get Emmaus going in Cornwall but also were treated to a real Cornish tea with strawberry jam and clotted cream. I learned something new that day and that is what goes on the scone first, Jam or cream. I’ll leave you guessing!!
If you are in Cornwall or have interests in the county and would like to help, new trustees are needed to join Alan and individuals with special skills are also required. You can find out more by contacting the Emmaus UK Federation Office on 01223 379 267.
I hope it won’t be too long before I am writing in this blog that I have just been to the new functioning Cornish Community. I look forward to that and especially to more cream teas!!
The suburbs of London seemingly stretch endlessly into the distance. Somewhere, hidden deep within the terraced houses of South London and away from public view lies a unpretentious looking building. One crisp winter morning I made my way to this secluded venue. Record producer Charles Bailey was waiting for me and immediately he took me to a small corner cafe for a bacon sandwich and a coffee. When we were fortified we returned to his secret location. Once inside all signs of Victorian England disappeared. Here was one of the most up to date state of the art recording studios one might find anywhere. ‘We don’t advertise the fact that we are here’ he said as I looked in amazement at the expensive equipment. ‘But, as a precaution the place is more protected than you might think’. I believed him as the recording machines certainly did not come from a bargain basement store.
Soon a jolly group of musicians appeared and before I knew what was happening we were into the recording of Coldest Night. This rap song cleverly composed by Charles Bailey draws attention to the plight of the homeless in the winter. My part was minor. I simply had to say a few words about Emmaus whilst the real work was done by the rapper Question999 who clearly was no stranger to the microphone. All credit is due to the team, including the Emmaus Companions who feature in the record, for composing, performing and recording this song for Emmaus. Its a great catchy song with a real message. Tune into it and get your friends to view it.
You can watch the Coldest Nights video on YouTube, download it from itunes or buy it at an Emmaus shop.
Sent from my iPad=
This post was written in December, but due to technical difficulties publication was delayed!
When I arrived at Emmaus Mossley (Manchester) the other day to take part in their Christmas Fair several Companions were hard at work building a new kitchen. Many years ago we took over an old mill, renovated it as best we could and now it is home for over 20 men and women and also the site for the Emmaus shop. I spent the night in the one spare room and next morning joined in as members of the public came along for the Fair.
‘Emmaus has made such a difference to Mossley’ said one lady. ‘It’s brought us together and is a real meeting place.’ Local musicians played throughout the day and even invited me to sing along with them! I did so as the last act of the day which was fortunate as we may have lost many friends had I gone on earlier!
Just before going to Manchester I called at Risley Prison near Warrington where I had been invited to open a new Health Care Facility. The King’s Fund, a leading agency in the Health Care Field became interested in Prison Health and agreed to support the building of a new facility in the prison. Prisoners along with outside contractors worked together and produced a greatly improved reception area. Many prisoners suffer health problems and if proper care can be delivered in prison then they do stand a better chance once they are finally discharged into the outside world. Contrary to what many people believe prison is no soft option. It is very hard to lose liberty and to be confined particularly when your family may be experiencing hardship on the outside. I can only hope that as the cuts begin to take place we will not cut rehabilitation work inside. It is vital for us all.
Broadmore, Ashworth and Rampton are three institutions in this country which most people will never set foot in thank goodness. They are not prisons but secure hospitals for the criminally insane. Several days ago at the invitation of the Nottingham Health Authority I spend a day in Rampton being taken round by the Medical Director. Here in this place located in the depth of the countryside live some of the most dangerous people in the country and day after day, night after night they are cared for by a group of specialist nurses and staff. Mental health is a major problem in our country and most people do not realise what a serious problem it is. Naturally Rampton has to be kept locked and surrounded by a secure fence but every attempt has been made to make it more like a hospital or home than a prison. I have to say that I felt a sense of pride that the staff got on with their demanding work with little recognition from the public at large. It is not unknown for them to be attacked by deranged patients and often they can work for years without seeing any significant results. The quality of a country can in part be measured by the way in which it cares for the most vulnerable and we can be proud of what is done in Rampton and elsewhere. I hope to go back shortly to have further meeting with staff and patients.
My son,who teaches PE in London recently returned from taking a group of students on a Rugby Tour of New Zealand and Fiji and so we both leapt at the chance when Scottish Rugby invited us to Edinburgh to watch Scotland play South Africa. The conditions were terrible, pouring rain and a biting wind, but to the great joy of every Scotsman alive Scotland beat the World Champions! At the dinner afterwards the defeated team looked pretty glum but were cheered when in a speech the President of Scottish Rugby said that the following week every Scotsman would be behind them when they played England. Needless to say they won that match!