Mental Health Week – Awareness and Support

There’s been lots in the news this week about mental health awareness and how we can all help people who might be suffering in silence.

As leader of the council I see examples all the time of the impact mental health problems can have on people’s lives, so I’m always pleased to see the issue being highlighted.

For example, our housing needs team regularly come into contact with people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness because their lives have been affected by mental health problems. Without support this can lead to relationship issues.

Our social workers support young people who are struggling to achieve their full potential, residents who are finding it hard to be good parents and adults who are struggling to lead independent lives. These challenges can often be a result of mental health problems.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the importance of talking about mental health is being emphasised – how listening cannot be underestimated, and how each and every one of us has the power to make a difference to someone’s life.

What always concerns me is that it is often not obvious when someone is suffering, in the way it is with a physical disability.

Many years ago I had an uncle who was affected by the war and his mental health suffered as a result. There was no support for him and he was never fully recovered.

Back then no one knew what to do – we didn’t even know what to call it. As a result, my uncle was partly ostracised, not because people didn’t care, but because they felt uncomfortable around him. On the rare occasions that anyone did talk about what had happened, my uncle was described as having ‘had a funny turn after the war’.

In the decades that passed, I’ve seen a shift in how people with stress, PTSD, anxiety and depression are treated. The fact these conditions now have names and people feel comfortable talking about them in their homes, the media and on the street shows you how far we have come. (more…)

New business arrivals land in city

I was delighted to hear that the organisation responsible for improving skills in the construction industry is to move its head office to Peterborough.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is working with Opportunity Peterborough to secure a premises in the city for its new HQ in an effort to bring colleagues and customers closer together.

The agency hopes it will be able to sign a lease later this year with the move completed by January 2020.

It was heartening to hear the CITB’s chief executive state that Peterborough was its preferred location because it is a diverse city with a strong talent pool, a generous supply of modern, sustainable office facilities, supported by excellent road and rail links.


Royal awards are so well deserved

Well, what a week it has been for Peterborough talent!

This blog is more jam packed than usual, as I want to take the time to congratulate the many, many achievements announced this week.

I’ve always maintained that when it comes to talent, Peterborough more than punches above its weight. For a relatively small city, we have so many talented and dedicated people living here.

Dedicated volunteer wins MBE

First of all, it’s been a great week for Brian Pearce, who will receive an MBE for work at Railworld Wildlife Haven, just days after the organisation won a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, along with Peterborough Sailability.

Brian Pearce wins MBE


Ensuring the most vulnerable are supported across the city

Since we published our second phase budget proposals at the end of last month quite a few people have asked me about the proposed rise in council tax and how this relates to adult social care funding.

Nationally, adult social care is facing unprecedented pressure resulting from the needs of an ageing population, reducing budgets and increasing costs of care; the situation in Peterborough is no different.

To put it in figures, our city council has to deal with financial pressures on adult social care of over £2.3million next year due to increased factors including cost, demand and complexity of need.

We also have to rapidly prepare for the future as analysis of the Peterborough population indicates an increase of 17 per cent by 2021, of which people aged 85 and over are expected to increase by 40 per cent and those aged 55 and over by 26 per cent.


We must all work together for our city

I’ve been called many things in my time – it goes with the territory of being a politician – but I’ve never been called a whiner.

It was one of the many accusations and simplistic sound bites made by MP Stewart Jackson in his Westminster Life column last week.

If understanding the issues that we face as a city, coming up with solutions and getting on and dealing with those issues is whining, then yes, I’m guilty.

Take our approach to regenerate Fletton Quaysa site that was underutilised for decades. We created Peterborough Investment Partnership, the joint venture between the council and Lucent, which has kick started regeneration of this key city centre site.


Tackling homelessness across the city

There’s been much debate in the past week about the sharp rise in the number of people in housing difficulty in the city and the impact of this on our budget.

Peterborough is no different to other cities, but as one of the fastest growing cities in the country we are certainly at the sharp end.

The issue we have is that demand for social housing is far higher than supply and as a result we are having to place more people who require temporary accommodation in bed and breakfasts, and in extreme circumstances, budget hotels.

To put it into perspective, an average of 60 to 90 people per month came to us as homeless in 2012 – this rose to 150 in August.

Changes to the benefits system have had an impact on many families, in particular the changes to housing benefits which see people who are under-occupying their properties penalised.

The introduction of universal credit, which involves individuals being given their benefits directly, has led to fewer private landlords accepting people on housing benefits.