Local member of Parliament, Hugo Swire, with Working Together organiser and East Devon District Councillor, Jill Elson

“Keeping Well” theme proves highly successful focus for council’s annual voluntary and community group event

Local MPs Hugo Swire and Neil Parish, together with around one hundred representatives of voluntary organisations and community groups attended East Devon District Council’s annual ‘Working Together for the Future of East Devon’ event held at Knowle, Sidmouth on Friday 9 October 2015.

Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s cabinet member for sustainable homes and communities, who is responsible for organising this occasion, said she was delighted with the high level of attendance from voluntary organisations, community groups and town and parish councils who turned out in force to support this event, which broadly aims to improve communications between the voluntary and statutory sectors.

Commenting on the event, Cllr Elson said:

This year’s ‘Working Together’ theme focused on Keeping Well and covered mental as well as physical health issues. With as many as one in five young people experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, the mental well being of our East Devon residents is a matter of great concern to us. Dementia, too is a serious issue and it is shocking to know that 300 people in the Sid valley alone have an official dementia diagnosis.

But I am so pleased that this year’s Working Together event has brought together so many local agencies and organisations, who are all passionate about providing such a high level of support and who are focused on improving the quality of the lives of our residents.

We are also extremely proud that we are able to provide financial assistance for groups through the Parishes Together Funding scheme, which we jointly administer in partnership with Devon County Council. This excellent scheme has helped provide practical support to a number of community based organisations including The Project – an outstanding mental health group for young people.

Neil Parish, the Member of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton visited the event mid-morning and stayed on to address the delegates about the theme of the day. He also thanked them and their organisations for working so hard to help keep people well in the district. Also speaking at the event were Wendy Weidner from Dementia UK and Rachel Johnstone from Sid Valley Memory Cafe.

Hugo Swire, Member of Parliament for East Devon, arrived during the lunch break to listen to people talk about their work locally and said that he was concerned about mental health issues and was due to meet the Devon Partnership Trust later that day.

Delegates were able to find out more about the excellent work being carried out in East Devon by Debbie Humberstone from The Project  and Tim Tod and Ros Arscott from Young Devon to combat mental health issues in young people.

They also heard about how we can encourage older people to keep well from Dr Anthony Hemsley, Consultant Physician and Associate Medical Director Medical Services Division at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

Other speakers included:

  • Lee Tozer, Department for Work and Pensions (Universal Credit)
  • East Devon District Councillor Andrew Moulding (Parishes Together funding)
  • Jenny Fish, Awards for All and lottery funding

Stalls present at the event included:

  • East and Mid-Devon Community Safety Partnership
  • TRIP Community Transport
  • Plough and Share credit union
  • Devon County Council Trading Standards
  • Devon Link-Up, an organisation for people with learning disabilities

Delegates also brought with them items of non-perishable food, which were collected by Seaton Foodbank for handing out to needy families in the area.