Let's Give More Control to Residents and Local Volunteers to Help Create Positive, Lasting Change for Our Communities
Volunteering to help others can have diverse benefits both for us as individuals and for those we volunteer with. It can increase people's confidence, boost wellbeing and help strengthen the fabric of society. There is increasing recognition of this from policy makers too. Take for example, the Government's pledge to offer up to three days' paid volunteering in companies employing over 250 staff - a move which could provide new opportunities to around 15 million staff.
The potential for such a movement is no where more tangible than in Bristol. With one of the largest and most active Green Party's in the country, an innovative and creative economy, and a powerful network of different campaigning groups, Bristol is on the cusp of creating something that could enable us to step up from being awarded Green capital status to really deserving it.
Are we asking for radical change to the constitution of the UK? No - we're asking for a truer democracy, one where everyone gets and feels involved in the creation of their community. By returning the power to change things to those that need it most, this could well be seen as a great change so the question becomes 'Are we asking for radical change?' Yes - we're asking for a truer democracy.
It is painfully obvious that more needs to be done for grassroots football but there must be a delicate balance struck. It is important that grassroots has the simple target of keeping youngsters out of trouble and help them gain life skills from the sport, as well as trying to discover the next talent to play for England; the next Raheem Sterling.
What happens if England win the World Cup next year? That's right; as the men's World Cup enters a four-year hiatus, the women's World Cup is still to come... Women's sport makes up just 2% of all sports coverage in the UK. It's a shocking statistic, but I hope it's something that can change over time... There is an appetite for the game and in some countries women's football is huge.
Norman Baker MP has taken the unprecedented step of calling for a rethink of the medicinal utilisation of cannabis. Never before has the UK spoken in such unbridled terms. The government, however, wasted no time in reaching for the stock reply: "We have no plans, *insert generic harm statement* we're winning the war on drugs...blah..." -
Last month's announcement that the Football Association is going to lose a significant amount of investment - £1.6m of public funding - is the latest wake-up call for amateur football. Sport England is responsible for distributing public money to increase sports participation, and its decision to reduce funding for football is as a result of a sharp decline in the number of people playing the sport.
Cheerleading is hard work. See if you can do it. Try a dozen star jumps from a crouched down position, twizzle in the air and chant at the top of your voice at the same time. Unless you go to the gym more than every now and then, I bet you can't do it.
I, of course, realised my ultimate dream in 1966. But this would not have been possible were it not for the volunteers who helped me play football when I was growing up and then later at my first club Chelmsford Boys, now known at Chelmsford City Youth FC.
I have mixed feelings about National Obesity Week, which begins today. On one hand, it shines the spotlight on a serious issue that undoubtedly affects young people I work with - one in three youngsters leaving primary education is obese. On the other, it can also serve as a distraction.