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Thursday, 22 October 2009

Manor Farm Boys Club

It was an inspiration visiting Manor Farm Boys Club. Not only has it resisted the tide of political correctness in holding onto its single-sex status, and it's original name, but it is also an example of what can be done, not by endless meetings and discussion, but by just using initiative and getting on with it.

The club is a bit of a tardis - much larger on the inside than it seems on the outside. And they have made superb use of space, with a new gym and an art room and store-cupboards in every available corner.

The club also owns a cottage in Wales for community adventure weekends, which it lets out to other youth clubs and organisations across Bristol. When I visited, they were also making use of the demand for parking spaces by people coming to watch the (sadly unsuccessful) Rovers game, and charging for car-parking.

It was really encouraging to see community minded people taking the initiative and making the club work - even more so when you realise that most of those now involved in the club came through it themselves and have grown up to want to put something back in. That's real sustainability.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Filton Sea Cadets - fundraising needed!

If more children were given the kind of opportunities those at Filton Sea Cadets get, to learn a multitude of skills and discipline, our antisocial behaviour problem would be much diminished.

I went to visit Scott Stevens, ( pictured) of Filton Sea Cadets to see if I could help them raise much needed funds to renovate their premises at Horfield's T.A Centre.

What struck me most was the manners and courtesy of the young people there. I had a bit of trouble getting in, initially - and one of the boys let me in and pointed me in the right direction, and with exceptional courtesy made sure I knew where I was going and how to find the person I had come to see.

Scott himself has invested huge amounts of his own personal time and money in helping to renovate the crumbling premises in which the Sea Cadets are currently housed. They need all the support they can get - and there are few initiatives that are more valuable than this one. So if you can help, get in touch with the Filton Sea Cadets, by emailing Maz:

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Come to "Southmead's Got Talent" Grand Karaoke Final!

This Sunday, ( 18th October) it's the Grand Final of Southmead's Karaoke competition. It promises to be unmissable. 7 contestants, aged from 11-65 have gone through the heats to reach this final stage.

We are also luck to have Bristol's former WBC Super Middleweight Champion of the World, Glenn Catley on the panel of celebrity judges. I'll be sitting beside Glenn on the celebrity panel. Now there's a man whose decisions you don't want to disagree with too much...

But that's not all that's happening: There is also a full line up of family entertainment, courtesy of local performers, such as The Southmead Pride Majorettes, and the Ds Streets Hip Hop Dance Troop. These are just some of the groups that Southmead Pride sponsors and supports.

A large amount of Southmead Pride's money for the community is raised through The Southmead Carol Bus Appeal. The whole thing has been more or less instigated by one local man - Cliff Howell, and what he has achieved for the community over the years is testament to just what can be achieved by one man.

So come along for a great afternoon, supporting local community groups at the same time.

WHERE? Southmead Community Centre
WHEN? This Sunday, 18th October, 3pm onwards
TICKETS? Just £5

For more information, go to
or call Cliff's Florists on 0117 593999

And this is Southmead's Carol Bus in action...!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

On the Henbury beat with the police

Last Friday between 5.30pm and 1am, I joined the local police as they were out patrolling Henbury - and the notorious Crow Lane. I was wanting to see the youth crime problem from the other side- from the perspective of the police. I followed Sgt. Terry Scoble who explained their Zero Tolerance policing policy for parts of Henbury. To be honest, I was expecting riots on the streets, but on the night I was out the place was remarkably deserted.

As we drove round, meeting and dealing with small clusters of varyingly nuisance young people, one thing struck me: It was Friday night, and the only facility open for young people was... not the Youth Club. Despite reassurances that it would be open on Friday night, the youth club was closed. What about the Youth Bus? The Youth Bus seemed no where to be found. The only place open for young people was the voluntary organisation - where no one was paid to be there- it was Emmanuel Chapel.

For me that spoke volumes, and took me back to David Camerons' conference speech, and what he said about liberating communities from an over-bearing and inefficient state. So often, the best way the state can help the community is to channel all its support and resources into helping other organisations, real, organic, community organisations, do the work.

it was a fascinating and valuable experience coming out with the police. I'd like to thank Sgt. Terry Scoble and his team for being so accommodating, and providing such an informative and educational evening.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

One of Britain's strangest pubs ?

This has little to do with Bristol, but it is so extraordinary, I thought it merited a blog anyway:

On my way up to the Conservative party conference in Manchester, I couldn't resist stopping by at what must be one of Britain's strangest pubs: Somerset House, in Stourbridge.

From the outside, an unremarkable red-brick pub. But Somerset House holds a secret - as yet unexplained by scientists: it is possible to suspend a full pint glass from the wall by rubbing it up and down on the wall until it 'sticks'.

One theory, when the pub was wall-papered instead of painted, was that it was the wall-paper-paste underneath that somehow stuck the glass to the wall: but the wall paper has since been stripped off and the wall painted over. And the pints still stick. A real mystery.

This picture isn't photo-shopped, it's real. Go to Somerset House, in Stourbridge and see for yourself.