Archive for December, 2012

Official opening and commissioning for the Akerman Health Centre Patmos Road – Thursday 29 November 2012

I am often left to consider how I managed without email, but even more pressing is the gradual realisation as to what a difference Health Centres have made in our lives, in accessing such a wide range of healthcare provision along with the necessity for what I like to think is our well-being maintenance, since the facts of life for living longer are that by 2015 there will be more older than younger people in our society.

Clearly, the official opening of the Akerman Health Centre was an achievement for Caroline Hewitt NHS Chair for South East London who led the demanding task of building co-operation and trust between so many different agencies, groups, architects, planners, healthcare professionals and the construction team from Fulcrum for whom building better health is a mission now safely delivered in Patmos Road.  But for those who were privileged to a private viewing, the day belonged to all the agencies and for their immense contributions as Mike Stone the Centre Project Manager explained as he displayed the healthcare facilities that he and his team are so justly proud.  The strategic baton of operational success will now pass to the Chair of Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group Adrian McLachlan, but the final word is reserved for Kate Hoey who with hallmarked modesty graciously stepped up to unveil what is a credit to our borough, as a constituency MP for whom 2013 will mark her twenty five years of loyal service to our communities in Lambeth.

Before leaving this most impressive piece of technical design and development, I took the opportunity of having a Health Check or MOT as it’s called in the business.  All was fine but I need to get more exercise so this is high in the frame for January 2nd.  And why not January 1st you might ask?  Well, January 1st is the New Years Day Parade and I’ll be out supporting local groups and individuals who will be onboard or walking alongside the Lambeth float which this year is “Hats off to London” and if you see us raise your hats in recognition of those who have contributed so much to caring in our borough with a special thanks to the health professionals in Patmos Road whose vocation is to serve and for whom our health and well-being is reassuringly in safe hands41198ST08 - Ackerman Centre opening by Kate Hoey MP 2012.

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St Martins in the Fields – “It’s all about you” – Wednesday 28 November 2012

At the top of Tulse Hill there is a school set back behind tall Dickensian gates that open slowly on demand.  Ahead, for the visitor are a flight of steps leading to an imposing front door, the silent herald of welcome to a comfortable old fashioned hospitality with the aroma of freshly ground Blue Mountain coffee as a lasting percolated memory.  “And the reason for your return” the silent herald might imply.   Well, good though it is I’m here for more than just the coffee and on cue follow swiftly at the heels of Jennifer Clarke the Careers Co-ordinator to join Years 9/10 in the hall.

My return to St Martins was at the invitation of Mrs Jennifer Clarke who was opening doors to prospective employers as the focus of her Careers Fair “It’s all about you”.

Guiding their young people is very much a value added here and although the commendable examination results can make the journey easier, its finding out where these students might be going that gives the school the edge.   Something that educators like Mrs Clarke know only too well and prepare the way carefully well in advance.

As someone familiar with the demands of teaching and learning, reaching grade boundaries through the pass rate facts of life are but a measurement, because at fourteen; students are the font of all wisdom, able to text unseen, hold three conversations at once and through social networking sites know whose hot for who with the hottest gossip yet to hit the streets.

Well, we’ve been there too, at another time and another place.   Not so technically advanced I grant you but the learning points are still the same and I hope that this look at the real world and the choices on offer were useful for Year 9 and that talking to prospective employers might have helped Year 10 make a few career calculations.   Identifying the right environment for skills and ability takes time and moving through a structured “Its all about you” inspection early on, could make all the difference in finding out what not to do with the realisation that something that was never an option suddenly becomes a goal for life beyond those tall Dickensian gates at the top of Tulse Hill.

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Mayor’s Charity Alzheimer’s Society Lambeth Service

What a lovely surprise in the post yesterday morning with such a neatly written address from Class 4 at Immanuel and St Andrews Primary School in Streatham!  The Mayoress and I thought your designs for our Alzheimer Charity Logo were splendid and we have displayed a few examples, sending an invitation to other schools in Lambeth who might want to design some themselves.

Thank you Class 4 and we look forward to visiting your school.  I shall be wearing the chains of office or `the blinks’ as I often refer to them, especially for you”   


Cllr. Clive Bennett

Mayor for Lambeth and its Communities

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Roadpeace:`World Day of Remembrance’ at St James’s Church Piccadilly’ – Sunday 18 November 20122

 Here in the London Borough of Lambeth we are fortunate in having highly committed Road Safety Officers for whom a 20 mph speed limit is painfully obvious to those who have access to the shocking national statistics for road deaths in 2011.  The figure of 1,901 should surely be enough to convince all London Boroughs to implement a 20 mph speed restriction, especially when hearing those heartbreaking oak leaves names being read out at the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims at St James’s Church in November.

Roadpeace is a National Charity for road crash victims with an annual church service that really needs to be quietly attended rather than reported but I will do my best to express the burden of loss experienced by those who are left to live with memories and `the what might have been’ as relatives of a motorcyclist or parents of a child killed on our roads.

The church service is aimed at giving comfort to the families but it was hard not to feel angry at the bureaucratic indifference from public servants who could make our roads a safer place, especially in the presence of those left to grieve, such as the mother for whom the entrance to Brixton Underground Station offers consolation and brief reunion.  It’s a place she returns to for reasons that still run rivers in her mascara.  Standing left and looking right she is able to watch her son and his friends as they set out on their gap year adventure.  That was the last time she saw him, yet another victim of road death but this time at the hands of a bus driver thousands of miles from home.  The conversations after the service offered that crucial therapy of sharing, each one heavy in the re-telling but necessary in staying the distance of grieving for a child, a brother or the young woman who wanted to tell me about her Dad.  “He was just a fair weather motorcyclist.  Why didn’t it rain that day and never stop!  The driver got a suspended sentence and I got life. Life without my Dad, my life without him, my funny, infuriating, loveable father who like so many just didn’t deserve it”.

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Lambeth is trying to care for its own – November 2012

It’s not difficult to appreciate that, if it were not for those in our borough, who out of compassion and caring for the plight of others our situation would be on a level close to social disaster.  There are many groups in our borough who are extremely active within this type of provision with some practically offering a twenty four seven operation, but let me briefly acknowledge the inspirational work of just three likeminded groups in Lambeth.

There are several churches that contribute to the Robes Project whom I first met at Christ Church in Blackfriars Road, however it was soon clear that this Southwark based project, skilfully managed and guided by Olivia Newington is very closely linked to the work of St Mary’s Ace of Clubs centre for homeless and vulnerable people, operating in St Alphonsus Road Clapham.  And more recently the missionary work of the Rev Arlington Trotman at Springfield Methodist Church has now realised the opening of its custom-built luncheon club, providing meals three days a week for those who are unemployed, unskilled, disabled or shut-in by age or illness, or a combination of these conditions.

I asked Sarah Miles from Ace of Clubs what was the most difficult part of doing this work.  The answer was instant and painfully expressed in the helplessness of having to say “we can feed you, give you a change of clean clothes, make you comfortable and keep you warm but we don’t have any accommodation that we could offer you.”  The worry is that these are not all rough sleepers but previously people with a home, lifestyles and hopes for the future.  This social standing and stability has now been taken away by a cruelty of circumstances that flood their lives with difficulties and where economic crisis is real and streets the reality of their homelessness.

As I write and the temperature starts to fall the Robes Project are preparing to sleep out and Patrick who does all the washing at Ace of Clubs is filling yet another machine, drying out the next batch of woollens and Sarah checking the fruit and bread so generously donated by JS in Balham and M&S in Brixton.  These consistent acts of giving back, carried out for whatever reason, are surely a credit to our borough.  Deprived in parts we may be, (according to the statistics) but in caring we are in a league of our own because we are communities, who get on with a job that needs to be done and for this the volunteers are deserving of our heartfelt thanks.  

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