Older folk could teach Hunts a thing or two

THE solutions to Huntingdonshire’s three most pressing issues could well turn out to be inter-related.

Eighty delegates attending the Huntingdonshire Matters conference, organised by the district council at Wood Green Animal Shelter in Godmanchester concluded that older people, education & skills and young people were the three key themes that should be taken forward to be resolved over the coming year.

They key issues will be defined by working groups over the next couple of months before a further meeting of the stakeholder group convened by the district’s strategic partnership, but delegates thought a key issue relating to older people was that their wealth of experience and skills was at risk of being lost to the community.

HDC’s corporate team manager, Helen Donnellan, added that the skills concern was the need to recognise that the ‘skills gap’ between those potential employees had and those employers needed would change as the economy developed. And young people were concerned for their personal safety.

“All the issues that were brought to the event were inter-related, and the solutions might prove to be, too,” she told The Hunts Post.

“The event was really good,” she added. “The energy in the room was phenomenal. What was really interesting was the amount of passion for working together in a collaborative way.

“For us it was about how the big society might work for Huntingdonshire and how we can share our resources effectively for the good of Huntingdonshire over the longer term, so that we have a vibrant and sustainable district.”

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She said the issue about young people’s perception of safety emerged strongly during conversations at Huntingdonshire Regional College’s taster days. The police had already committed to improve communication of crime figures and young people’s perception of safety in their environment.

But it was already clear that harnessing older folk’s talents to help address the skills and young people’s issues could be part of the solution, she added.

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, HDC’s executive leader, who is also chairman of the Huntingdonshire Strategic Partnership, which includes councils, emergency services, the NHS, the college and faith groups, said: “The next steps will be challenging, but we will work together to ensure that we produce some positive outcomes to improve the lives of the people who live and work in Huntingdonshire.”

The three strands of work will be co-ordinated by Manny Gatt, an independent facilitator with Shared Service Architects, a company spun out from research work at Canterbury Christ Church University into the skills and knowledge required by leaders and senior managers to be successful in shared service working.