Thoughts on our community

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Last night, my wife and I were up at Keele, listening to a lecture given by the Professor of Criminology, a very entertaining speaker with a warm manner and a sense of humour. His subject was "Can Crime be Prevented?" and he made us think about what crime is and how it mainly occurs: for example, the figures tell us that females are most likely to suffer physical assault in or near their home at the hands of persons they know and often love.

Surprised? So were we. His message overall was that external efforts to control bad behaviour through the criminal justice system are less effective than the creation of good communities, where local people create a healthy style of living together, and largely deal with local problems themselves, by knowing each other and creating a "care for others" culture for their children to grow up in.

It made me think of Audlem. It is physically a pleasant place to be, with many attractive features, and all the essential facilities: shops (including the chemist's), Post Office, Surgery, School, Care Homes, and so on. The only real problem is the traffic. (Incidentally, I think the only real solution to that until the oil runs out is a southern bypass — but others may differ.) But more than all that is the nature of the community.

Look at the enormous list of organisations in our telephone numbers section (in the Parish News, which Howard edits). Each one represents commitment by people to our community, and an invitation to join them in their efforts. Of course, some activities may be a real switch-off for you personally though for others they are important, but that's life. Some need to be in the public eye and to publicise themselves (which helps to give us a sense of the sort of place this is) whereas others work quietly in the background — but they all help to bind us together through the work of partnerships and joint effort that they represent.

I can't be fair, and mention each one, so I shall choose three. First, the Carers' Group. Looking after people who need you is demanding and can be lonely and become dispiriting. This Group supports people and gives them a break.

Then the children's football coaching: they love it, and it gets them into good habits of discipline and looking after their fitness and skill. A group of men and women give up their leisure time quite voluntarily to organising and running these sessions.

Thirdly, the annual Musical Show put on by the Methodist Church. All ages join in, from under eight to over eighty, all are welcome to help, whatever church they go to and whether they are church-goers or not. On that stage is all our community, with all their varied fortunes and abilities, all bound together by their commitment to the production. And the talent that comes out in all aspects of the direction, the technology and the presentation is amazing.

I congratulate all of you who contribute to these affairs. It is you who bind this community together and make it the pleasant place it is. Like many others, I'm an incomer, having only lived here 39 years, but we have happily brought up our children here and can see no reason to move.

Over the next months we shall all be welcoming more newcomers to Audlem, as the new developments have people taking over their new homes, and if you, dear reader, are one of them, I urge you to join us in the churches and all the other thriving activities here. Contribute your skills and talents, we will learn from you and you from us, and our community will evolve still further.

This article was first published in the Easter 2008 Parish News with several additional paragraphs thanking contributors to that magazine.