(Originally published on my yola blog 2nd December 2011)
Social action projects are probably one of the best ways for members to get involved in their communities to do something positive. Politics has had a negative stigma attached to it and that needs to change. From experience I have seen that social action projects change the way the public view those involved in political parties. In July, my branch held a social action day in Spalding, South Lincolnshire. We targeted one of the most run down areas in the town, which is also an area passed by the high traffic of visitors to the town and the Springfield’s Shopping Outlet Village. The playing field and skate park had recently been completely redone by the district council, aimed at attracting youngsters from all over the constituency. However despite the best of intentions of the council, with many refuse and recycling bins installed, some visitors to the park still failed to dispose of their rubbish in the appropriate fashion. From the skate park, my branch then ventured into the estate bordering the area. Finally finishing in the late afternoon, with an estate car filled with refuse and recycling bags containing the litter from the area, we retired for a well-deserved drink. On reflection of the day, many of us noted how residents had approached us asking us why we were doing this for them, unpaid! We did it because we wanted to do it; we wanted to do our bit for the community – the residents said thank you to us, they really were truly grateful. In the strong labour area of the town, they were very surprised that we were all conservatives. If people could take pride in the areas that they live, pick up their litter and dispose of it correctly, what a nicer place we would all live in. We decided the reason why people were littering was down to laziness. There was no excuse, there were many large bins – and no surprises they were empty!
This was only the start of a long list of social action projects planned for the branch to become involved in. Within the next few weeks, visits to residential care homes for the elderly have been planned, where we plan to engage in Christmas festivities with the residents. After November’s policy forum briefing on poverty, a great deal of concern was shown for the elderly. It’s not just economic poverty these people are subjected to, but social and emotional poverty. Many of these residents have experienced amazing things, but have also been subjected to the media’s portrayal of young people as hooligans. I have done projects in the past such as these with St. Johns Ambulance and I have seen the positive outcome. The elderly appreciate the attention of young people. We need to prove that we can all do something positive. The minority who ruin the image of young people as a whole; need to be shown an example, but so do the public, together we can do amazing things for our communities. We just need to pull together, volunteer and help those who need it.
In March the Branch is organising a sponsored hike, inspired by many a Duke of Edinburgh award expedition of some of the members. Money raised will be split 50/50 and donated to Macmillan Cancer, and Sue Ryder Care. We will be doing this in the Peak District. Cancer is something that has affected so many of us in one way or another. We wanted to give something back to those who have cared for our friends and relatives, whilst having fun at the same time. Completing an expedition alone gives one a great sense of achievement, but to complete it in the name of a good cause, that feeling will be spread among a lot more people. The Branch is happy for anyone to join us in this endeavour.
If I were to be elected, I would encourage many more branches to organise and participate in social action projects. As Conservative Future we need to give something back to our communities, helping them to grow stronger. I also intend to organise national social action days, whether this is something that we take part in at once place at one time, or all do the same thing in our own communities on the same day at the same time. Let’s take a stand together on this one. Social action is the future. It’s a bright hope for everyone.