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Projects bringing Lowestoft communities together highlighted

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 November 2014

Jon Yates with a representative of Waveney Disability Forum, Matthew Taylor, club chairman John Pawsey and Afua Kudom and users of the centre.

Jon Yates with a representative of Waveney Disability Forum, Matthew Taylor, club chairman John Pawsey and Afua Kudom and users of the centre.

Archant

Lowestoft's social divides and projects closing those gaps were in the spotlight yesterday as inquiry officials visited the town.

Starting the day at Waveney Gymnastics Club on Southwell Road, the Social Integration Commisison were invited to see how the centre helps people from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds come together.

Club chairman John Pawsey showed delegates round the centre, and they met the diverse range of people using it.

“Whether they’ve got disabilitiy or are particularly talented, we don’t have any problems at all,” he said. “We cater for whoever walks through the door where we possibly can.

“At the end of the day, if you dont have an open policy, you’re not fulfilling the requirements of life. We try to do what we can, it’s just the norm here.”

Afua Kudom, Public Affairs Manager at The Challenge, a charity which set up the commission, said she hoped to use the time to get a sense of the different projects in Lowestoft before reporting back to government.

“We’re looking at how integrated are we as a nation, does it matter, what kind of impact does it have and what can we do about it?,” she said.

She was joined by The Challenge colleague and co-founder Jon Yates and Social Integration Chair Matthew Taylor, who make up part of a commission spending a year touring the country to see how diverse communities come together.

Suffolk County Council community lead Sara Blake said it was important they visited Lowestoft to see that integration was not purely about race and religion.

“It’s quite different to lots of places,” she said. “And as the commision is looking at a national inquiry, we wanted to give them a different perspective.

“We also wanted them to meet with people who are out there, delivering services to communities as well as leaders and chief execs.

“Waveney Gymnastics Club is a great example of all the different elements, different backgrounds, different age groups. There are no boundaries in terms of this facilitiy for anyone who has a passion for gymnastics.”

The commission then visited Pakefield High School, to see how pupils brought older people from the community into the school to learn IT skills before a round table discussion with community representatives from councils, charities and other public bodies.

Do you run a project aimed at bringing the community together? Email polly.grice@archant.co.uk

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