Pilgrimage 2009: Monday 9 March

March 13, 2009 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Today took me out of the City to Earl Shilton.  This is a sizeable community with some significantly challenging housing estates on the edge of Hinckley.  The community has a past full of memories of working in the boot and shoe trade and the hosiery trade.  Many of the older folk I met worked in the factories and have many stories of making shoes and stockings.   Time spent in the Neighbourhood Centre at the heart of Earl Shilton included sitting down exercises with a group of ladies and then having lunch with the Ladies Group.  They came from Hinckley and Earl Shilton and further afield, delighted that the Neighbourhood Centre in the town has acquired new premises and is opening up to new users.  But it is clear that some of those who use the Neighbourhood Centre are suffering from significant life challenges, including drug abuse and other forms of addiction.  After that, on to Weavers Close School to meet the children and to see the Children’s Centre.  We also had an opportunity to talk to the Head.  The familiar issues arose: low educational aspirations, difficult situations at home, some children finding it difficult to cope.  Yet the school is rising to the challenge magnificently and the standard of commitment from the staff and of understanding from the Head was very encouraging.  Later in the day I met representatives of the Town Council who spoke of the significant plans for increasing the population of Earl Shilton by some 2,000 more people.  They also described some of the issues about the deep resentments in the town of the Travellers’ community and of some continuing racism with the significant influence of the BNP in Hinckley.  The Church leaders were represented ecumenically at this conversation and they spoke of their pastoral work amongst people who may be facing unemployment and low self-esteem.  But the Churches were beginning to see that by working together they could have a significant impact on the well-being of the town.  Finally, I attended the bus which travels around the communities of Leicester and Leicestershire providing advice and support for young people on drugs and alcohol addiction.  This is an impressive project entitled “Next Generation” and which reaches out very effectively to young people.  The dramatic and damaging effects of addiction which touch so many lives left a lasting impression on my memory as I drove away from my first day in Earl Shilton.

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Pilgrimage 2009: Wednesday 4 March Pilgrimage 2009: Thursday 12 March

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