Blog Archives

Future of Talke Library Looking Bright

Lesley and Jill at Talke Library.

The future of Talke Library is looking more positive as a community organisation sets up base there.

Local voluntary and community sector support and development organisation, Support Staffordshire, now has a base locally at Talke Library. As local manager, Jill Norman, explains: “We have been looking for a base in Newcastle and Kidsgrove for a while and have decided to try using Talke Library which gives us a great place to access all parts of Newcastle Borough and also allows us to support the community library and its volunteers. We are keen to take the opportunity to encourage more community use of the library and its resources. It’s a great facility and has a lovely meeting room as well as flexible space in the main library.”

Talke County Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “Since I was elected to Staffordshire County Council I have held meetings with senior officers, pressured the Leader of the County Council and fought hard to ensure Talke Library has a future.  I have also raised my concerns about cuts to Library opening times, but hopefully this situation will improve as the ‘Support Staffordshire’ team begin to work more closely with the community.  I am hoping that a firmer arrangement can be sealed in the New Year and I will continue to be part of any negotiations to secure a positive future for this vital community facility. I shall look forward to working with Jill and her team.”

Support Staffordshire has already held one of its quarterly voluntary sector forum meetings and also a training session at Talke Library. Lots of different activities already take place at the library, including monthly Monday evening talks organised by The Friends of Talke Library and a craft group which meets every Monday afternoon. However, there are opportunities for other activities and Support Staffordshire is keen to attract people who would like to run new activities, or to volunteer to support existing activities, at Talke Library.

The base at Talke Library gives Support Staffordshire a chance to offer face-to-face advice and support to individuals who may be interested in volunteering through its Volunteer Centre services, and to those running a voluntary or community group who may need help on governance, funding, finding volunteers, or any other aspect of running an effective group. Staff will be available during the normal library opening hours of 1pm to 5pm on Mondays and 2pm to 5pm on Wednesdays (Talke Library is also open on Fridays 2pm to 5pm, run by Staffordshire County Council staff and volunteers).

You can just drop in to see us, although it is best to ring in advance to book at appointment to be sure. To book please ring 01538 381356 or, for volunteering advice email kathryn.bentham@supportstaffordshire.org.uk and for organisation advice email Natalie.shields@supportstaffordshire.org.uk

Petition against cuts in bus subsidies presented to Staffordshire Council

A petition of 1379 names against cuts in bus subsidies was presented to Staffordshire County Council by Councillor Charlotte Atkins on behalf of the Staffordshire Labour Group on Thursday October 12th.

Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South Division) said,

“I am presenting this petition on behalf of all those who will be devastated by these cuts in bus subsidies – the most disadvantaged: the old, the young, the sick, the disabled and those on low incomes.

“Buses are a lifeline in a rural county like Staffordshire – providing access to employment, education, healthcare, shopping and leisure opportunities. These are all vital to the quality of people’s lives.

“Without these buses, we will be adding to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. That will add to the mental health problems which are already high within Staffordshire and have huge consequences for rural communities.

“These swingeing cuts – a 70% reduction to the bus subsidies’ budget – are being proposed without any alternatives being planned. Why isn’t the County Council exploring innovative solutions to address the transport needs of our most vulnerable citizens – working with taxi services, health organisations, supermarkets, leisure outlets, and communities to develop sustainable alternatives? This must be done in advance of the axe falling.

“For once, we need not just to consider the bottom line but the needs of our most vulnerable residents – whose voice is rarely heard. We need to focus on the human and social outcomes of these ill thought out plans.”

Talke and Red Street County Councillor, Kyle Robinson said,

“Many people in our local community will feel trapped if more bus routes are axed.  I will continue to raise concerns of those residents who are worried about the future of their local bus services.  Many residents in my division who use public transport are worried that they may not be able to reach Royal Stoke Hospital without having to use taxis or walk miles.  Perhaps it is time for the Government to consider renationalising bus companies before the whole system fails.”

Chesterton Borough Councillor and campaigner, Cllr Allison Gardner said,

“We have been campaigning and collecting signatures for our petition over the summer. These cuts have already resulted in bus companies removing routes altogether.  Audley have lost their Saturday bus service to Newcastle and the number 17 Hanley bus has been cut. Cuts to public transport means isolation of people who cannot afford cars or are unable to drive. This means our elderly, disabled, young and poor residents will be adversely affected – the very people we need to be supporting the most. They, and whole communities, will become increasingly isolated and their access to work, training, health services and shops will be reduced. In turn this will have a detrimental effect on our local economy as well as the health, well being and opportunities of our residents. This is a further example of the appalling cuts forced on local government by the Conservative government and it is time we all spoke up, whatever our political persuasion, and said enough!”

Staffordshire Mental Health Motion Wins Unanimous Support

Staffordshire County Council accepted the challenge of playing a crucial role in improving the mental health of everyone in our community following a motion from the Labour opposition group (below) at its Full Council meeting on May 25th. The motion was carried unanimously by the Council.

Moving the motion, Labour Opposition Leader Councillor Sue Woodward (Burntwood North Lichfield) said:

‘The Mental Health Challenge is a call for councils across the country to promote mental health in the terms set out in the motion. As councillors, leaders in our communities, we collectively and individually have a role in ensuring services are there for our residents, promoting mental health and parity of esteem with physical health and removing the stigma of mental health problems.

‘We must be proactive and I hope it won’t just be left to a mental health champion but all of us. One in four experience a mental health problem every year – about 15 members here in this council chamber; about 2000 residents in each County Council Division and I am mindful of staff too,’ said Councillor Woodward.

Supporting the motion, Labour Deputy Opposition Leader Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South) said:

‘It is clear that we are nowhere near achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health services. Although half of all lifetime mental health problems emerge before the age of 14 years, we are not investing enough in early detection and treatment of mental health in schools – only 16 per cent of expenditure on child mental health services goes on early intervention. With local schools now making staff redundancies, mental health is often the first area to lose out.

‘There is also an alarming rise in young mental health patients treated far from home – nearly 70 per cent of child and adolescent admissions were out of area. So they are deprived of family support when they need it most. That situation would not be tolerated for physical illness – so much for parity of esteem!

‘The decision by North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to withdraw free NHS hearing aids last year demonstrates that even the CCG discounted the implications for mental health. To save a measly £110,000 a year, the CCG has jeopardised the mental well being of hundreds of elderly people denying them the social interaction that guards against isolation and depression. Yet they are responsible for commissioning all our health services’, said Councillor Atkins.

Also supporting the motion, Councillor Kyle Robinson (Talke and Red Street Newcastle) said:

‘I have seen how suicide has affected the community I represent. The problem is on the increase in Newcastle-under-Lyme and in other parts of Staffordshire. Men in the UK aged 20-49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. This is more than cancer, road accidents and even heart disease.

‘These figures are absolutely tragic and yet we fail to discuss this issue enough. Our County Council can do much more to reach out to our local communities and to make sure people have the information they need to access mental health services and support groups. We can all play a part in tackling mental health by sharing information and talking to each other. People must know they are not alone in their struggles.’ said Councillor Robinson.

Labour’s motion to Staffordshire County Council Full Council 25 May 2017

This council notes:

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second most common health condition worldwide by 2020.
  • Mental ill health costs some £105 billion each year in England alone.
  • People with a severe mental illness die up to 20 years younger than their peers in the UK.
  • There is often a circular relationship between mental health and issues such as housing, employment, family problems or debt.

This council believes:

  • As a local authority we have a crucial role to play in improving the mental health of everyone in our community and tackling some of the widest and most entrenched inequalities in health.
  • Mental health should be a priority across all the local authority’s areas of responsibility, including housing, community safety and planning.
  • All councillors, whether members of the Executive or Scrutiny and in our community and casework roles, can play a positive role in championing mental health on an individual and strategic basis.

This council resolves:

  • To sign the Local Authorities’ Mental Health Challenge run by Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Providers Forum, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and YoungMinds.
  • We commit to appoint an elected member as ‘mental health champion’ across the council.
  • We will seek to identify a member of staff within the council to act as ‘lead officer’ for mental health.
  • The council will also:
  • Support positive mental health in our community, including in local schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
  • Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community.
  • Work with local partners to offer effective support for people with mental health needs.
  • Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community.
  • Proactively listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health.
  • Sign up to the Time to Change pledge