Dover Town Mayor Councillor Sue Jones was lost for words when she first stood up to thank the 16 charities and social enterprises who had given presentations and taken stalls as part of the Dover Community Showcase during the Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday 1 May. All the organisations had partnered with and been supported by the Town Council during the year to deliver a huge variety of services aimed at making our Town a better place to live and work.
Noel Beamish and Vee Bentley of Dover Outreach Centre spoke movingly about their work to help the most vulnerable homeless people in our community back to living more normal lives. The Charity has just taken on the lease of the former Seaman’s Mission and will be able to expand its work even further.
The Town Council wants young people in Dover, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the best opportunities to reach their full potential. 354 (Dover) ATC Squadron told the meeting about the qualifications that young people can obtain through joining and a member of Dover Youth Theatre explained just what huge benefits, confidence and life skills he had gained from his membership of DYT. Samphire Charity explained how their successful project in local schools was improving understanding between different cultural traditions. Future Foundry chose Dover as best in Kent for their work to give opportunities for young artists and makers to be supported in setting up their own businesses with the regular Student Makers Market in Dover now going from strength to strength.
Dover smART is very well known in the Town for their projects giving opportunities to explore the arts and crafts – and one of their projects aimed at those living with dementia and their carers is now so popular that they are looking for a new larger venue. Dover’s very own film festival recording the Town’s life over decades was represented by Honorary Freeman of Dover Mike McFarnell, more often seen behind the camera at events through the year.
Dover Big Local are getting towards the half way mark in their 10 year project to spend a million pounds in Dover. Their latest and most ambitious project is the development of the Co-Innovation Centre as a hub for small businesses in the former CoOp Building helping to keep our Town Centre thriving.
Out and about Kent Wildlife Trust are working to both improve the natural environment and to help us enjoy it through the “Dover Connector” programme of events – most of them free to attend. And finally the White Cliffs Ramblers encouraged all those present to enjoy the fresh air and take a walk with them as part of the White Cliffs Walking Festival later this year.
Sue was able to express the thoughts and feelings of everyone at the meeting in thanking those who had spoken for their hard work and dedication in giving their time and talents so generously to making life better for their neighbours. She also reflected that in as well as delivering their projects the organisations had brought other benefits with open spaces and buildings such as the old Co-Op supermarket now back into community use. She added that charity events raised funds but also allowed people to get to know each other better and build community spirit and togetherness.
Sue went on to thank the other organisations who had stalls at the meeting including the Dover White Cliffs Branch of the RBL, Emmaus Dover, Dover Bowling Club, and Fairtrade for sharing their work. Sue also thanked Councillor Pam Brivio, Chairperson of the Civic and Special Projects Committee who had the idea for the Community Showcase and who had worked hard to plan the hugely successful celebration.
Our photograph shows the Community Showcase in full swing.