Customer Committee Lynne: “This is why I love what I do”

Lynne Jones

Lynne Jones

Here’s the first in a series of blog posts from members of Bolton at Home’s Customer Committee. Follow as they reveal what it’s really like to be a volunteer, helping us to improve our services, in their own words.

I’m not very good around moaning people.

If there’s an opportunity to moan, I prefer to take advantage of it for myself and not have to share the time listening to others’ moans, which obviously I think are not as valid as mine.

Genuine concerns are another matter. I’m more than happy to listen and investigate the possibility to rectify, make amends, change for the future and help to plan a better way forward. This is why I love what I do, as a member of the Customer Committee.

A couple of weeks ago we met with Bolton at Home officers to decide on a plan to publicise what we do to staff and customers, as we fear we’re still a mysterious entity.

I quite like the idea of being a woman of mystery but not in this context!

We want everyone to know what we’re striving to achieve in giving our time, effort, expertise and experience to make things better, whilst keeping safe all that is good in your ways of working and our communities.

The very next day, the disabled facilities adaptation review working party met to review our findings from the extensive investigation we carried out over the past few months. Now that sounds big and important!

As with other reviews, we all reported back that it’s fascinating to learn how a service works.

Importantly, we need to know what our fellow customers think. Staff opinions and ideas are equally imperative in finding that positive way forward to a better service.

We spend a lot of hours doing this work but there are always lots of biscuits and bacon butties involved as well.

Roll on the next meeting.

Lynne Jones

Customer Committee Member

Get to know our Customer Committee at http://www.boltonathome.org.uk/customer-committee

 

Food poverty: a problem for all of us.

Do They Know Its Christmas? was released exactly thirty years ago to publicise third world food crisis. It was a call to arms; to recognise the seriousness of the problem of hunger and to do something about it. Who would have thought that, thirty years on, another call to arms against food poverty is being made but this time on behalf of people living in Britain?

No one could seriously argue that the food problems faced by our poor are on the same scale as the famine that still exists in parts of Africa today.  Nor is it morally tenable to suggest that we should switch off foreign aid and redirect those resources to tackle food poverty at home; though, regrettably, some will suggest this. Rather, the case has to be made that, as the fifth largest economy in the world, there is sufficient wealth in the country to do both.

Some commentators apply a twisted logic whereby the main victims of world-wide financial speculative mismanagement are the ones who are demonised. In this alternate universe the solution to our economic problems is to reduce the spending power of those on the lowest income whilst boosting the spending capacity for those already on high incomes. As the gulf between rich and poor increases at such a pace, it is inevitable that significant portions of our population fall into food poverty through no fault of their own.

Emerging to rise to the immediate challenge of keeping families from starvation are numerous committed individuals and organisations who are working selflessly to stem the tide. Even they are not free from criticism from the ‘demonisers’; for some today even philanthropy has to have a hidden agenda. Whilst their work is essential and, unfortunately, likely to have to continue for the foreseeable future, their efforts alone will not provide a permanent solution to the problem of food poverty. It is only big ideas, bold thinking and a significant level of public commitment that is required to sort this mess out.

The first step would be to check and then reverse the levels of inequality. A prosperous and healthy country is one without an underclass that struggles to make ends meet, unable to afford the basic commodities that most of us take for granted.

Another big step would be to carry out a root and branch review of food production, food imports/exports, distribution, sales and overall food management. The aim of which would be to create a national food programme that provides sufficient/reasonable returns for producers (farmers etc.), distributors, and retailers. Such a programme would need to provide value for money for consumers and tackle the chronic problem of food wastage; as well as reversing the present situation of healthy food being, on average, more expensive than low nutrition options.

There are many more ideas and options we could tale and as this is Food Poverty Week we all have an opportunity to think seriously about the issue, improve our knowledge about the subject and hopefully try and do something to solve the problem.

Christmas is not far away and this is a very difficult time for families in poverty. We live in financially precarious times; it is estimated that many of us are only a few wage packets ourselves away from financial stress. So there is not much room for complacency; to quote from the Band Aid song:

Spare a thought this yuletide for the deprived

If the table was turned would you survive? 

Paul Thomson
Policy Advisor, Bolton at Home

The Myth of Sustainabilty…

In the first of a series of articles from our Community Development Officers Lisa Forrest talks about sustainability.

Make it ‘sustainable’. What does that mean? There is a myth that surrounds community work that the panacea of all interventions are the ones where the participants quickly learn to fly on their own. But in my experience, those people are very few and far between. The lion’s share of work in the neighbourhood is in building relationships, and trust in the notion that I, we, won’t just leave as soon as the funding boxes are ticked. Continue reading

It’s good to talk…

Imagine the scene. I’m new to Bolton at Home. It’s a veritable sea of different projects, working groups and people I don’t yet know. I’m not always sure how everything links together, who does what, and what’s due to happen next. However, I’m learning people’s names, and I know where Shirley hides the chocolate.  Continue reading

Ready, Steady, Bake!

It was like moving house putting all my equipment in the back of the car.  Boxes full of cutters, embossers, tools, food colourings, sparkles – you name it I’ve got it.

Sarah Lodge is a place I’ve only heard about, so it was a great surprise when Chris Massey from Tonge UCAN centre asked if I would deliver a ‘masterclass’ for the residents.  “Me”, I said!  I only bake as a hobby but as a result of my involvement in the company ‘bake-off’ colleagues knew I could bake and I’d proven myself (to my amazement actually). I didn’t think I was that competitive, but it’s amazing what a bit of employee rivalry stirs up.

Continue reading