Thursday, 31 July 2008

Wombling free

One of the advantages of recess is that it's actually possible to plan my diary in a sensible way. Usually my days in the constituency are a mixture of (a) events where the date, time and place are not of my choosing; (b) things I've slotted into the diary a few weeks beforehand because it looked like quite a clear day at the time; (c) last minute invites which I have to accept but am going to find it very difficult to get to; and (d) urgent things that have been squeezed in at the very last minute regardless of how they fit into the rest of the schedule. The result is often chaos - trying to get to the other side of the city in ten minutes flat, always running late...

But today was great. Four appointments in Old Market - all on foot, and I got to every single one of them on time - then a walk up the road to my surgery at the Old Bank, and then another short-ish walk to the office. (And then a bus home). First call was at WayAhead, the youth housing association, to be intereviewed for a book they're publishing to mark their 25th anniversary. Next was across the road at Barnardo's to discuss the BASE (Barnardo's Against Sexual Exploitation) project which works with young people at risk of being abused, pimped or groomed by adults; my involvement with this started when I was contacted by the mothers of two teenagers who'd been brought to Bristol by older men. Thankfully one has now returned home to her parents. We also had a chance to discuss the Government's child poverty pilots, and Bristol's chances of being chosen to run one. (Martin Narey, Barnardo's chief executive, chairs the End Child Poverty coalition).

Next stop was the Trinity Centre, to talk to arts administrators about their funding situation and future use of the centre. (Which is a great venue. I think I'm right in saying that New Order played there once; I was reading 'Confusion', the Bernard Sumner biography, over Christmas and I think it was mentioned it in there. Or was it Joy Division? Answers on a postcard please).

Then it was lunch at the Whole Baked Cafe (splendid place) with Paul Smith, Chief Exec of the Furniture Re-use Network. Paul knows absolutely everyone in Bristol's voluntary sector, the vast majority of whom seemed to be in the Whole Baked Cafe today. He's organising a national event - "the Big Womble" - in Wimbledon in the autumn, to promote re-use. It will include a national raffle of celebrity household goods; an auction on the day; and also local events run by local re-use organisations. The money raised will be used by the FRN to support its social and anti-poverty work. Paul is of course also the Labour candidate for the new Bristol West seat (which will include Old Market) at the next election. And he insists he's already got his hands on a Womble costume...

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