Few take active community role

By John Earnshaw

Published on Friday, July 25, 2014 - 12:00



From John Earnshaw, St Helens:

The St Helens summer fair, on June 29, was a great success.

We had good crowds and good weather. The public, of course, does not see what goes on in the planning months before, and in the extensive preparations and work on the Friday and Saturday before the event, the day of the event, and in the clearing up afterwards.

What is worrying for the future is that fewer people are coming forward to volunteer their services. It is almost as though there is a realism gap — a gap between what appears to be happening, as perceived by the public, and what actually happens.

St Helens is the epitome of the English village. The village green, with the cricket match playing while locals sit outside the inn with their drinks on a sunny Saturday afternoon, presents a picture of village life which would seem to be timeless.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The cricket, for example, relies on volunteers, albeit mostly willing ones, who spend a lot of time behind the scenes. Without them and the whole structure of fixtures, committees, fund raising and maintenance, the idyllic scene would be gone. It also relies on a steady source of young players to continue the tradition. Sadly, this is at risk as fewer young people embrace the once traditional sports of cricket and football.

But what is more worrying is that the people who make up this community — and the larger Island community — are failing to get involved. Whatever the reasons for this apparent retreat into insularity, the effect is that there appears to be a general lack of interest in what is happening in the world outside our front doors.

St Helens Parish Council is producing a village plan, in common with other councils on the Island, and as part of the initial planning stage a letter was sent out to some 600 households asking for their comments.

Only 55 letters were returned. It is early days yet in the formulation of this plan, so there is still plenty of time to contribute, but it is essential that everyone takes an interest in helping the community plan for the future.

There are challenging times ahead, with cuts in council funding set to deepen. If individuals do not take this opportunity to manage the changes themselves they will find that changes will happen anyway.

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