The Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government visited Lincoln on Thursday, May 23, to see what steps the local council take to improve residents’ lives.
Chris Williamson MP looked at how the City of Lincoln Council and its partners brought the community together, such as the neighbourhood work Sincil Bank Stadium undertakes.
He also visited Bishop King School to see students’ presentation on the “Stand Up, Speak Up” campaign, and finally spoke to community representatives and residents.
His visit is part of the Lincoln Community Cohesion Strategy steering group plan to help Lincoln residents, such as improving opportunities, emphasising communities’ common interests, and helping influence key council strategies that affect residents.
The plan hopes to help residents not only feel more involved, but also give them a feeling of belonging and feeling safe.
The shadow minister has been touring the country recently to look at different ways to promote cohesion, integration and citizenship within local communities.
Chris Williamson said: “I’m particularly interest in Lincoln because it’s a relatively small city, plus various issues relate to the east of England, so I’m quite keen to get the Lincoln perspective on those and the way challenges are dealt with.
“I’m really inspired by what I’ve seen today. I’ve seen an example of how Lincoln City Football Club are getting involved in the local communities through sport, promoting cohesion and integration.
“I think that’s really important — getting the football club involved that way enables them to reach into parts of the community which might not necessarily be so easy for a statutory agency to do so.
“The three things I’ve seen today are models of great practice. I’d like to see more football clubs doing this, and the neighbourhood offices are doing a good job with their partners — police are there, health is well represented, and so on.
“What’s great about this is that the community do feel that they’ve got a voice that is heard, and that they can influence the agenda of statutory agencies.
Cllr Brent Charlesworth, Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion at the City of Lincoln Council, said: “We’ve been showing [the Shadow Minister] what we’ve been doing in terms of community development work in the city, in particular our community cohesion strategy.
“We want to ensure as the city takes off economically, that we have people working together. What we don’t want is communities set against each other.
“We want to create cohesive communities, with people respecting each other, and working together to improve the quality of life.”