The words 'time to come together' have been said so many times over the years but we have never, in history, had a two years quite like the two we all have just had - so it should mean much more this new year.
And, in my humble opinion, here’s why...
It’s been reported a few times this year about certain community groups bad mouthing each other and refusing to work together, which is absolutely shameful.
What we do, and some people do forget this, is work to make other people’s lives much better.
It’s not about us, or you and me, or the steering group, chairperson or volunteers - it’s always been about those less fortunate than us and helping them to have a better life.
When I used to hold meetings in the early days I always opened with: “Please leave your egos at the front door and pick them up on the way out as there is no room in this meeting for them."
That usually got the message across.
Here at the Purple Angel, in the early years we knew all about the trolls and negative comments on social media. Goodness knows there were enough of them!
But we just ignored each one, refused to be drawn into conversation and did not answer any abusive emails - and so eventually they more or less stopped or at the very least, got bored and we just carried on doing what we do best.
Coming from northern climes, where there is an incredible community feeling and workforce, I have always been so very proud to say Torbay comes a very close second when it comes to community groups and matters.
But one thing really does worry me.
There are a few, and just a few, who just flatly refuse to work with anybody else.
We have always advocated we will work with anybody, not just about dementia but if we can help anybody in the community in any way possible, we will.
Anybody who knows us knows all we do is for free and we rely solely on public donations to do this.
And yet recently we held a free coach trip to a wonderful garden centre in Cornwall to see one of the best Christmas displays in the South West.
We had a 48-seater coach and only filled 30 places.
Despite ringing round, visiting and emailing some other community groups in Torbay to say we had 18 free places for a wonderful day out, there were no takers.
Now call me a cynic but I know for a fact there are so many lonely people out there that would have loved a day out but the message just wasn’t put out - either that or the community groups in Torbay have go it badly wrong.
We also reopened our Purple Angel café recently - also completely free for everything - which is held on a Saturday.
Why a Saturday? Because we didn’t want it to clash with anybody else’s groups in Torbay during the week.
We wanted to make sure that not only did people about 50 years and over have somewhere to go during the week but also at the weekend.
When we approached a certain large local group and asked them to inform their members that we were opening on a Saturday, they quite flatly refused - I kid you not!
The reason given was they didn’t want to lose members - please remember we don’t open during the week like them, only on Saturday when they are closed.
We were absolutely flabbergasted!
So my message to all community groups in Torbay is we really can work together in helping all, it's not a competition and, at the end of the day, it matters not what others think, it only matters that those who are less fortunate than most, though no fault of their own, start to have a better quality of life with all of our help in 2022.
Together we can all make that difference.
Huge thanks to all those who have followed my column each week and massive thanks to the Torbay Weekly for letting me write it. Happy new year to all!
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