Sunday September 27 2020



In Full . . .


Posted on May 27 2012 at 11:43:21

‘Community’ is a very interesting concept. It lies at the heart of existence for most living things, from a host of daffodils on a hillside to the teeming streets of a city of 15 million humans.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in villages perhaps have a clearer feeling for community than those in Birmingham or London . . . well, most of us.

There are those who move in from the city, shut out everyone else with solid fences and electric gates and are never to be seen again, shielded by their tinted windows as they slip by in oversized vehicles.

Luckily, they are the minority. More people like to get involved in their communities, finding it gives them more joy and life energy than anything else they can do.

This is what Baron Jones (of Birmingham, of Alvechurch and of Bromsgrove in the County of Worcestershire) was going on about as he unveiled the new Barnt Green Scout & Guide HQ.

The former plain old Digby (of the Alvechurch sweet shop and Barnt Green cubs and scouts) told villagers gathered in the new building that as far as he was concerned there was no point in businesses that existed just to make money and did not enhance the communities in which they were based.

Even after his six years as head of the Confederation of British Industry, and his short-lived and futile attempt to bring sense to politics as a non-political Minister for Trade, you can tell Digby is still just a village lad, recognising and embracing the values instilled into him as he grew up in our communities.

He marvelled at the achievement of the scout and guide volunteers in raising £320,000 to build a new HQ on the site of the old one, to which he first trudged as a cub scout more than 50 years ago.

Eight years of persistence and a refusal to give in after the old hut burnt down in 2004 had paid off and was now enabling what Digby saw as the most important role of a community – giving young people the best possible start and their own feeling of belonging to and being able to enhance that community.

The sort of start he had, indeed.

The Lounge, in Alvechurch, is another fantastic example of this very same aim: to welcome and embrace young people into their community.

But at the same time as our current political leaders tout their BS (that’s Big Society, in case you thought we meant something else) why are they also cutting the financial lifelines that will ensure such initiatives – and communities – can thrive?

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