A busy ol’ Bay, full of opportunities

A snorkelling taster session at Broadsands Beach with Live Longer Better.

IT is a busy old time of year for the whole team here at Torbay Communities (when isn’t it?).

One of the joys of working for Torbay Communities is the number and range of people you meet, representing all ages and all walks of life. But even by our standards, the last couple of weeks have been a stretch.

Regardless of Summer sunshine and holidays, we continue to maintain all our usual services through the Torbay Community Helpline, supporting people when they need it most through our dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

We also keep our community buses on the road, ensuring potentially isolated people retain an essential connection with the rest of the Bay, particularly in the hillier parts of Torquay.

Despite a shortage of volunteer drivers, we are managing to keep the buses running, albeit with a reduced service until we can recruit more. As mentioned in this column many times before, all you need is a D1 category on your driving licence and a few hours a week to spare. Please, if you are interested, pick up the phone now and speak to our Transport Coordinator, Kelly Bedoyan on 07816 407495

Our popular community health programmes, such as Live Longer Better, have ramped up a notch through the Summer, taking advantage of the good weather to add courses in sea swimming and bowling to the busy schedule. For more details of up-and-coming events, contact Jess Slade on 07772 023170.

Our Community Builders remain busy all year round, helping communities set up support groups that take away loneliness and isolation. They now work with all age groups meaning that they are busier than ever, but It also means we can continue to fight for better lives for everyone.

As always, if something is going on in the community, they will not be far from the epicentre regardless of the day of the week it falls (there is no such thing as a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five job at Torbay Communities) and that meant they were out in force to support the Babbacombe Fayre, the Cricketfield Community Summer Fete, the Willows Family Fund Day, and event at Shoalstone Pool in Brixham, to name but a handful.

They were also well represented when at Children’s Week, where Paignton Green was a pulsing mass of colourful energy continuing a long-standing tradition of ‘Week’s’ that span many decades.

And at the core, in and amongst the entertainment and the information stalls, young people and children took a moment to celebrate themselves and honour those that go above and beyond in their daily lives.

Awards were made in various categories: primary, secondary and 16-25-year-old person of the year, best sports team, best activity or attraction, best holiday club, and an adult award.

Designed by the Youth Council working with Imagine this Torbay and the Young Persons Panel working with children’s services at Torbay Council, there were awards for an environmental hero and a community spirit award that went to Zen Commins, who has been a young carer for both his mum and dad.

The 15-year-old from Paignton goes to hospital appointments with his dad so he can help him talk to medical staff as he has had a total laryngectomy.

The award citation described him as caring, kind, supportive, non-judgemental and always willing to help. In addition to looking out for his parents, he is also a police cadet and volunteers for Rowcroft as well as indulging in his hobbies of beekeeping and other charity work.

Alphee Poole took the young person making a difference to adults award after it was revealed that not only does he regularly volunteer for the Punk Against Poverty, he has to take four buses to get to and from his home in Foxhole to do so.

The 20-year-old is keen on his charity work, particularly those that work with homeless people and when he is not helping strangers he is at home providing support to his mum who has muscular dystrophy and his nan, both of who need a little extra help.

We may have our problems here in the Bay, but we also have so much to celebrate, not least each other. It is important we never lose sight of that.