The Police were the first on the scene. They arrived early at the TQ6 Community Partnership Natter, not long past the 10am start. The food was out, teas were brewed and the Police shared what they had been up to. It was a testament to the relationship they have with the TQ6 Community Partnership that they were there after such a busy night.
One of the forthcoming events the TQ6 Community Partnership is involved with has grown from that relationship. Facilitated by the police, the TQ6 Community Partnership is sponsoring the Lionheart Educational Trust to visit one of the town’s schools, which aims to create ‘resourceful, resilient, reciprocal and reflective learners’. It is a chance for young people to take part in an investigation about what the community wants, and draw up a plan to deliver those things.
It sounds very much like a natter. And the TQ6 Community Partnership’s involvement is down to a previous community natter-identified desire to do more for the young people in the town. Evidence that getting together, sharing a cuppa, some food, fun and ideas can get things moving.
The fun for the youngsters was overseen by two mums of the Tuesday night SEN group (once unofficially known as FightClub). The group meets at the Dartmouth Community Cafe on Tuesday evenings for a non-judgemental, supportive space.
Refreshments were provided by Dawn, Julie and Helen. Tables swelled with nourishing goodies which quickly disappeared as teas and coffees swirled around the room.
As the venue filled up, sound levels swayed as conversations buzzed and the fun bubbled. Among the people there was parliamentary candidate Caroline Voaden, who was attending with Councillor Ged Yardy. Ged has been working with members of the TQ6 Community Partnership to get clarity on and provide solutions for some of the issues raised by the community. He has his teeth into dentistry and fed back some of the progress of getting an NHS dentist in the town.
Some of the issues the town has identified are national problems, others are local. But all are on the mind of the TQ6 Community Partnership.
A previous community natter identified these eight issues:
- 1. Access to Dentists (esp. for children)
- 2. more activities for children and young people
- 3. access to affordable childcare
- 4. better solutions to public transport
- 5. improving play parks
- 6. more community events
- 7. better mental health support
- 8. more visible policing
“I’m a radical and an activist,” Clive Bowers from C2 told the room. “We can do extraordinary things and create a shift in what we can do and achieve for ourselves.” Suitably primed, he handed over to Carl Smith, chair of the TQ6 Community Partnership, and Aiden, who is responsible for the MenKinde group. Carl and Aiden shared what was being done to address issues identified by the community.
They asked Ged about the access to NHS dentists. Ged said South Hams District Council has shown a commitment to investigating how to improve dentistry in the area, with the possibility of a pilot. There are also discussions with Devon One, the Devon-wide health group. There’s no success yet, but people are working to find a solution.
Dawn Shepherd of Dartmouth Community Chest hoped that a similar programme that has been delivered for children and young people could be achieved over Easter. It follows the government’s Holiday And Food (HAF) initiative, but as it’s being put together by the community, it sometimes gets the name of CHAF (Community Holiday and Food). But it’s up to the community to decide what it wants, she said.
Aiden took on the issue about access to affordable childcare, saying we are trying to work on little things to support this. “We are leaving it on board to continue to address,” he said.
Pete Condliffe outlined the plans for the local bus service for the town and around. The thoughts are that it will be similar to the Totnes Bob The Bus. Initially, it will be scaled down and cover Dartmouth and Stoke Fleming to prove it will work. The aim is to provide sustainable and stable transport in the area. The feeling in the room was that Stagecoach had forgotten about Dartmouth.
One of the ongoing developments in Townstal has been the improvement of the Britannia Avenue play park. It is being steered by Charlotte Holdsworth of LiveWest. There will be one new piece of equipment, one piece will be removed, others will be fixed. Work will start by the end of the financial year, she said.
There was a consensus that there needed to be more community events. The Christmas and the Halloween parties bring people together, create a sense of community and give clues to what the partnership can work on. Next up is Easter.
In terms of mental health, there are great strides in activities. Aiden spoke about Menkinde, which offers two hours of peace and support each week. Sue shared what the mental health Thursday group at the Dartmouth Community Cafe does. It’s an opportunity to drop in and talk about problems. There’s no judgement, and sessions are together or can be one-to-one. Pete has started a Bereavement group on Saturdays at the community cafe. It’s an open group to share problems, to remember and to offer support. “Plus practical advice to keep a roof over your head,” he said.
The last issue on the list was more visible policing. That’s how the event started. Another example of how a little conversation inspires action.