Babergh’s commitment to its communities
Dedicated Covid recovery, almost £5m in improved leisure facilities and a CCTV upgrade will all go towards improving the quality of life of Babergh residents, members heard this week.
Councillors at Babergh’s Full Council meeting on Tuesday (2 November) received an update on the ongoing efforts of the council’s communities team.
Assistant Director for Communities, Nadeem Murtuja, outlined the impact of Covid and the assistance provided, with contact made to over 6,000 clinically extremely vulnerable Babergh and Mid Suffolk residents and 1,500 calls taken via the Home But Not Alone service from those experiencing isolation, difficulty securing food and medicine, or money worries.
He also shared the financial support offered by the council including the introduction of its Emerging Needs Grants during the peak of the pandemic, which saw £70,744 in funding allocated to 48 charities and organisations directly providing Covid response in their local communities.
This formed part of the £622,000 in total community grants administered during 2020/21 to recipients such as Long Melford Football Club – who received £75,000 towards its new club house – as well as local charities including Sudbury Citizens Advice, Community Action Suffolk and Lighthouse Women’s Aid, among others.
The grants application process has now been digitalised to make applying for funding even easier and since April £308,000 has been allocated to 45 projects across the district, complementing the council’s ongoing work with partners to support community groups restarting following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Babergh’s recovery from the pandemic also forms a key part of its recently adopted Wellbeing Strategy, outlining the council’s commitment to ensuring that its residents have the best possible conditions for good wellbeing.
To help achieve this, almost £5 million has been invested in the district’s leisure facilities – enabling the refurbishment and modernisation of Hadleigh Pool and the Kingfisher Leisure Centre. This includes the installation of a new pool pod lift, Changing Places toilet and shower and improved disabled access at Hadleigh Pool – supporting the council’s ambition for sustainable and inclusive spaces which maximise health and wellbeing opportunities.
Helping residents get fit and healthy, whatever their age, remains a priority for the council, who continues to deliver its Active Schools project at eight sites across Babergh, as well as offering an Active Well-Being Project in Glemsford and Shotley to promote staying active later in life.
In addition to facilitating sport and leisure, the council has assisted its communities with learning new skills including preparing low cost, tasty and healthy meals. Two cohorts – low income families and elderly isolated residents – recently completed a cookery course in Hadleigh, set up by the communities team along with the Rural Coffee Caravan and renowned local chef Justin Kett. Attendees learnt how to prepare nutritious meals and also received ingredients, recipe cards and a slow cooker to enable them to replicate the meals in their own homes.
One participant Carolyn commented on the difference the course had made to her life:
“Thank you for giving us the weekly cookery classes with Justin, they have been a real inspiration to prepare more healthy food for myself. It’s been an experience I personally will never forget and I now have the zest to cook more interesting meals.”
Hadleigh residents have also benefitted from an upgraded round the clock CCTV system, installed in the town and Sudbury over the summer. There are now 28 state-of-the-art cameras in both towns, ensuring that they remain safe places that people are proud to live in and visit.
Cllr Derek Davis, Babergh’s cabinet member for Communities said:
“It’s difficult to summarise the incredible work of the communities team since the pandemic began as I know how much activity has taken place to not only support our residents through the challenges posed by Covid, but also help our communities to build back even better.
“I feel privileged to be part of such a fantastic team who, along with our wonderful partners, continue to ensure that everyone is equipped with the facilities, skills and help they need to lead active, healthy, safe and independent lives.
“Although there’s already much to celebrate, such as our significant investment in our district’s leisure centres and our new CCTV system for Sudbury and Hadleigh, this doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done. I look forward to us achieving even more over the next six months, including making progress on implementing our new Wellbeing Strategy.”