Nick's August newsletter

August has been another very busy month, despite the restrictions

Luke Conod and Bobby Morris have been key players in the food parcel scheme

It is August already!  We have been living with COVID restrictions since March!  Although life seems to be returning to a new kind of normal, disruptions still impact on our daily lives.  Many of these are trivial, facemasks, queues, etc., but reading some of the news reports and online comments, where there always seems to be an ‘expert’ who appears to know more than the experts!  It is easy to become despondent.

This virus has disrupted life for all.  Children have been out of school for almost 5 months.  Some will be looking forward to returning, others will be dreading it.  Some businesses have boomed, others are sadly struggling, unlikely to recover.  Some relationships will have become strained, and undoubtedly, people have missed contact with loved ones.  Many face money worries, unemployment, health concerns and a fear that the virus is ‘lurking’ around every corner.  Frustration exists that the kind of life that was once taken for granted has now been curtailed.

Socialising is an important part of Rotary life and something we all miss.  With no real end in sight at the moment, we risk becoming pessimistic and feel we lack what sociologists call ‘agency’; the ability to take independent action to meet and develop acquaintance. However, all is not lost! Research shows that we gain an incredible sense of agency from giving.  When you volunteer your time and effort to a worthwhile project, you become empowered.  Volunteering is linked with a reduced risk of depression and a higher amount of overall satisfaction in life.  We make a difference. 

Despite the restrictions, the City of Hereford Rotary Club, continues to…

Meet regularly on Zoom.  Last month we heard from Bill Jackson and The Cart Shed charity, who use the natural environment to support individuals to overcome devastating events in their lives. Lori Carlson told us of the ongoing challenges in their Cambodian schools and fantastic work of the Ponheary Ly Foundation.  We also enjoyed an interesting talk by Hereford MP, Jesse Norman, live from his office in the House of Commons.  Many thanks to all our speakers for giving us their valuable time.

At the time of writing, over 2,500 Food Parcels have now been distributed to families across Hereford.  This has been done mainly by Rotarians, but would have been impossible without the support of many others.  Restrictions permitting, we plan to hold a celebration later in the year to thank all who have contributed.  Among those, we must pay special thanks to Rich Manning who has allowed us to use The Shack throughout.  His support has been immeasurable.  We wish Rich and his brother, James, the very best of luck as they take ownership of The Booth Hall.

This month, recognition needs to be given to our packers – Ruth Punshon, Anne Ellis and Steph Crowther.  They do a sterling job ensuring parcels are ready for delivery and that the warehouse is clean and tidy.  With schools closed for the summer, the number of deliveries and distance travelled has increased, therefore it’s important to recognise the contribution of the drivers, John Taylor, Kev Basden, Ian Cox, Ray Bayliss and Paul Morris.  To date, Ray and Paul have each delivered approximately 500 food parcels to addresses across the county!

We have also started our work to support the development of literacy.  Some startling UK statistics:

·         50% of prisoners are functionally illiterate; their reading age well below that of an 11 year old. 

·         Low levels of literacy contribute to low levels of attainment and reduced job opportunities.

·         1 in 11 children from a disadvantaged background don’t have a book of their own.

There are also significant links between low levels of literacy and poor health.  One study estimated a life expectancy of 26 years shorter between those living in communities at the highest and lowest risk of literacy problems.  We know parts of Hereford fall into the category for most at risk and with so much disruption to children’s education at the moment, we are excited to be able to make a positive contribute towards improving literacy.  Together with Old Market (British Land Company plc) and the National Literacy Trust, we were privileged to distribute 300 brand new books and activity packs to children across Hereford. In one school, Year 6 children visiting on an induction day, were delighted to each receive one of the new books to take home with them.  Our Summer Literacy competition has also been launched, with several promising entries already received.