After a busy few days up in Manchester for Conservative Party Conference, meeting apprentices and talking about my new DfE Skills brief at various meetings and events, it was back to Essex on Friday for my regular day of meetings and phone calls with constituents.
Three councils provide services in the Brentwood and Ongar constituency: Essex County Council have overall responsibility for the likes of highways, schools, children services and adult social care; while Brentwood Borough Council and Epping Forest District Council provide more local tailored services, including housing, parks and recreation and planning.
I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with Council Officers from Epping Forest District Council’s Public Health Improvement Team along with Councillors Aniket Patel and Nigel Bedford to discuss their work in the west of the constituency, which covers Ongar, Shelley and the villages including North Weald, Abridge, Moreton and Fyfield.
The team is doing some interesting work in Shelley as part of their efforts to improve the built environment, add to the sense of community and share important messages. Currently the team is working on #consequences, MiLife and MiLifeC19 projects, which are co-designed with young people for young people. I was also interested in the Community Champions Scheme and its aim to provide members of the community with training and support to be ‘social prescribers’. Currently there are 22 Champions throughout EFDC’s patch and I would encourage anyone and everyone to look into the scheme and consider applying.
A key takeaway from my meeting was that the Council Officers and Councillors have their fingers on the pulse of the local community and are proactively trying to tackle challenges both old and new, including isolation and services on offer, which have largely come about from the pandemic.