GETTING parents to be increasingly aspirational for their children and providing older people with a practical directory to help them find the services they need are two of the proposals to have emerged from Huntingdonshire Matters.

The next stage of the project will, from next year, begin to see some of the ideas brought into use by the public services that were involved in the process.

The scheme started as a public consultation exercise with the aim of helping to make the district an even better place to live and work and uncover the key issues, problems and challenges which people, groups, businesses and organisations are facing.

From an all-encompassing starting point, the civil servants, volunteers, business leaders and health workers involved in the Huntingdonshire District Council-run scheme whittled the issues down to three: education and skills; young people and older people.

At a conference at Wood Green Animal Shelters, Godmanchester, on November 6, the challenges - and suggested improvements - in each of the three groups were fed back to a Huntingdonshire Strategic Partnership Board that is now tasked with bringing the ideas to life.

In the education and skills section, the challenge was how to convince people learning is relevant and powerful. The suggested way to tackle this was to improve on two areas - having better links between business, education and training providers, and ensuring people have access to learning.

A third idea challenged parents to be more aspirational and support their children to access and engage in learning.

The young people challenge was to get this group more involved with the rest of the community and give them a sense of belonging - making sure their voices are heard (especially when new communities are being developed), giving young people leadership roles and creating shared community spaces to bring people together rather than having separate places for various age groups.

The last of the categories looked at tackling issues for older people with the main aim of ensuring communities care for the wellbeing of our older residents and that they are given the right information to access the help that is available to them.

A simple, yet effective, idea to emerge from this working group was a proposal for a needs-based directory of services - in other words a directory that is organised in a logical way; if you want help with shopping, the directory would list groups which can help with that chore.

Another key point was for services to remember old people value face-to-face contact - not e-mails and not the internet - and for people to have access to 'local navigators' providing information and guidance (see panel).

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, executive leader of HDC, said: "I am delighted that Huntingdonshire Matters has been so successful in bringing together people from such a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.

"Work groups presented their ideas about how to improve the lives of Huntingdonshire residents to the Huntingdonshire Strategic Partnership Board.

"Each of the groups worked extremely hard over many weeks to define the challenge for their theme, and set about providing some possible solutions. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in this process, which will have a significant positive impact for those living and working in this district."

INFORMATION: The next stage will take place on February 28 at Pathfinder House when the Huntingdonshire Strategic Partnership Board will present back its findings and actions.