Category: Community Projects

The housing emergency in Totnes (and beyond): Sandra’s story, part 1

AtmosTotnes

When we say Atmos will build 62 truly affordable homes, and that Totnes is experiencing a housing emergency, it is easy to lose sight of the human stories behind that. So @SaputoInc, we’re going to tell you one of those stories. Let’s call our teller ‘Sandra’… It matters that you hear her story, Saputo Inc. […]

Highway holdup for Somerset cyclists

Mick Fletcher
group of cyclists on Brean Way cycle-path

Slow progress on cycle-paths One of the reasons that progress in developing a network of cycle-paths in England is glacially slow is that opposition turns up where you might reasonably have expected support. ‘Blocked by the Burdensome Estate’ set out how an agency sponsored by the Department for Transport is still undermining moves to create […]

From mines to vines: exchanging the seeds of destruction for the fruits of hope.

Editor-in-chief

In the ever-expanding desert of negative news come these joyous oases of compassion and positivity. Women in War and International Politics (WIWIP) at King’s College, London and Roots of Peace have collaborated to bring an exciting panel event to discuss the role of women in de-mining and post-conflict reconstruction through sustainable agriculture in Afghanistan, and […]

Walking for health

Barbara Leonard

Just over a year ago I was one of small group of volunteer walk leaders sharing thoughts about a new virus being talked about on the news in the UK. Some of us had just returned from visits abroad where warnings about Covid 19 and measures to limit its spread were already happening, in sharp […]

Should charity start and end at home?

Valerie Huggins

In the UK, times are hard and budgets stretched. One in five children are living in food poverty. There is increasing use of food banks. More homeless people are sleeping on the streets. It is hardly surprising that there are growing calls for us to reduce the amount we send in overseas aid to other […]

Censuring students while censoring history

Mick Fletcher
black and white photo, man with finger to lips. secret

You could hardly make it up.  At the same time as government plans to appoint a ‘free speech tsar’ to stop students cancelling controversial speakers it also intends to summon heritage groups to be told by a minister what they can and cannot say about British history. It’s ludicrous but at the same time deeply […]

Sunshine smile and soulfood from Syria

Anthea Simmons

“I say to fellow immigrants ‘put in to this country. Do not take out. Put in.’” Khaled Wakkaa has been living in Exeter since March 2017, when he arrived from war-torn Syria and years in refugee camps in Lebanon, with his wife Dalal and young daughter Lemar (now joined by a little sister born in […]

Beyond the ‘burdensome estate’

Mick Fletcher

Since West Country Bylines published my article Blocked by the ‘burdensome estate‘ people from all over the country have contacted me with similar examples of apparent official vandalism. Despite the Department for Transport (DfT) publishing a cycling and walking plan for England which ostensibly “sets out a vision for a travel revolution”, part of that […]

The UK’s drug policy failure. Lessons from Portugal

Paul Delaney

We must consider alternatives to criminalisation and incarceration of people who use drugs, and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies. –Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, on World Day Against Drugs, 26 […]

Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

Become a curator: devouring digital culture in lockdown

Rachel Marshall

In the week before our second national lockdown started, I spent a glorious morning at Exeter’s newly reopened Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Six days later the museum closed again. It was such a treat to be able to view exhibits – photographic portraits of influential women and examples of the stunning lace produced around Honiton […]

Living through austerity with a learning disability

Neil Carpenter

Since 2010, successive Conservative governments have made it a priority to ‘clear up the financial mess left by Labour’ through a wide-ranging programme of austerity measures intended to reduce the deficit. As those cuts were biting, I began working as a volunteer advocate for adults with a learning disability, going into day centres, running a […]

Tears of a ghost

Chris Baker

The dead hedgehog was clearly the previous night’s roadkill. The body was fresh, judging from the staining on the asphalt. It had been hit ten or so feet away from where it had died, its last short, slow journey made, I imagine, in agony. The place where it died is now marked by a ghost. […]

Community project focus: Nature Connects

Alice Wall

Editor: We asked charities and community interest companies who share our values to tell us about their work. We do not edit their words. Nature Connects is a Community Interest Company (CIC) offering Nature connection and adult forest school for health and well-being in Cornwall. Alice Wall and Sarah Witts, its founders, made the decision […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]

Make, borrow, mend…and copy? A community project in Paignton

Anthea Simmons

For many people in the West Country, real life is a long way from the rural or coastal idyll portrayed by the tourism industry or the media.  The percentage of children living in poverty has been climbing across the region and high unemployment, low-paid work and a cycle of deprivation are often hallmarks of many […]

Testimonies from Refugee Support Devon: Waala’s story

Anthea Simmons

Refugee Support Devon (RSD) asked members of the refugee community if they would be willing to tell their stories. In 2018, Walaa wrote her story below in English and RSD have not changed any of it, except to remove the names of her husband and family, which Walaa asked RSD to do. We would like […]

Amin’s story: testimonies from Refugee Support Devon

Anthea Simmons

We are very honoured to be able to reproduce a series of intervews with refugees who have found homes in Devon with the help of Refugee Support Devon, based in Exeter. Credit for the interview goes to them. Setting up home in Devon is no easy matter after the traumas of war. It’s hard to […]