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Inspiring Hastings: Visits to Community Groups with the High Sheriff

Jackie Wilkes, Philanthropy Manager at the Foundation recently took the new High Sheriff of East Sussex to visit three community groups in Hastings providing vital support to the town.

Visiting groups is one of the most rewarding aspects of working at the Foundation and my day out with Lucinda Fraser, the new High Sheriff of East Sussex proved to be just that.   

Lucinda Fraser and Philippa Gogarty, the High Sheriffs of both East and West Sussex respectively, have indicated that they want to work closely with us over the next year to highlight the work we are doing on Tackling Poverty. Since Hastings is a town that Lucinda knows well it felt like that would be a good place to start.  

We began our day by meeting Tracy Dighton, the CEO of Citizens Advice 1066.  Tracy gave us an overview of all the fabulous work being led by the voluntary sector within Hastings. She also gave us an insight into the labyrinth in her brain that allows her to keep track of all the projects and funding streams that she must juggle on an ongoing basis just to keep the organisation afloat. Lucinda, like many before her, had assumed that Citizens Advice offices are funded by the government when actually they are all independent charities. 

After leaving Tracy, we walked up the road to meet Dave Perry, Chief Officer at the Seaview Project and Hannah Hallett the Business Manager. The Wellbeing Centre on Hathaway Road is a vibrant and friendly place where marginalised people with addiction problems and mental health issues can come together to use a range of support services.  This was a truly humbling experience that left Lucinda and I feeling in awe of all the team working at the Centre. 

Our final port of call was the Hastings and St Leonards Men’s Shed where we met Godfrey Bevan and some of his fellow trustees as well as some of the shed’s users.  The level of skill displayed by the trustees and users was impressive but the best part of this visit was listening to the stories of the (mainly) men who use the facilities. They openly admitted that access to the shed was vital to their mental wellbeing and how without it, many of them would feel lonely and isolated.

"Hastings is home to some of the most deprived wards in the country and I anticipated ending the day feeling humbled and exhausted but what I wasn’t expecting was the overwhelming feeling of hope and optimism that met us wherever we went."

Jackie Wilkes, Philanthropy Manager
Published on 23rd Apr 2024

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