Four years ago, in 2009, two local Worthing heroes sat down to tea with Jack Straw in Number 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have welcomed the couple but was away at the time.
That couple was Mick and Chriss Smith who wrote the book on community engagement in the Angola Road area where they live in Broadwater. Their invitation to Downing Street was in recognition of the fact.
It was around seven years earlier, long before community engagement became fashionable, they engaged with their community changing the lives of children on the Angola Road estate. Mick and Chriss started Mick’s Garage to give the children something positive to do by Mick teaching them to repair bicycles. As a result anti-social behaviour in the area has substantially reduced.
Mick and Chriss went on to organise events, community festivals, pantomime trips and most importantly to remain a listening ear in times of need. Because of their work everyone in the area knows Mick and Chriss.
This week parents in that same Angola Road area are angry because Worthing Homes has stopped the use of a paddling pool on an open communal space. Naturally Mick and Chriss are there to the fore arguing the case for their community.
Mick talking to us about the situation said: ”If that’s community engagement I’m a monkey’s uncle” and with his long experience in the area he should know.
Worthing Daily understands Worthing Homes’ fear of health and safety issues in our present day blame culture but surely where there is a will there is a way. We trust a compromise can be met on supervision and other issues so the children can have their pool back. Worthing Homes need to talk to the community – that’s real community engagement.