Opinion: Community the key to happiness

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We’ve just spent a fortnight touring South Australia with the Aussie branch of our family.

Opportunity to be ‘in touch’ with our grandkids. No need to Skype! What struck me on this visit as we toured was the strong sense of community displayed by many small towns bordering the highways.

There are street signs at the entry to settlements listing the community initiatives that bond that community.

The message is that the community welcomes visitors, not only the local administration. Being welcoming is a community concern.

An organisation which often featured was the fire service, which is usually manned locally by volunteers. Bush fires can spread rapidly, threatening homes, livelihoods and lives. To instil early awareness of fire risks, young people can join a junior section of the fire service. Fire is a community concern.

Public toilets feature large with me when travelling. I was amazed how clean and vandal-free the many public toilets are. They are seen as important public assets and the behaviour code seems to reflect that.

Don’t mess in your own backyard! Or anybody else’s.

Toilets are a community concern. We visited some waterfalls in the Grampian Mountains. The car park was set in scrubland and a woman who had returned to her car was collecting litter in the scrub.

Next day my daughter-in-law did the same at a roadside rest area. It seems Australians have decided litter picking is for them. There is even a national litter picking day when volunteers join in a big clear up. Litter is a community concern.

There are the play areas in small town parks but also facilities for teenagers. Skate parks are a common feature and games pitches. These tend to be prominently sited, apparently for two reasons.

First to show positive approval of the next generation and the other is to keep an eye on what they are up to! Provision for youngsters is a community concern. Parks often have family facilities that include stainless steel, electric barbecues, free to use for picnics and social gatherings.

And what of home? I’m pleased that Eskdaleside-cum-Ugglebarnby Parish Council has taken responsibility for the toilet in Sleights when closure threatened. I’m pleased with SAMS Shedder Brian who regularly clears litter from nearby woods.

I’m pleased with the playground facilities dotted about though youth provision does seem wanting. I’m pleased about the many voluntary groups serving needs of people in local communities.

I’m pleased about Coast and Vale Community Action’s ‘Totally Socially’ project listening to people’s views about community needs.

If you appreciate some aspect of your local community or think there is something missing, email charlotte.angus@cavca.org.uk or the Whitby Gazette with it.

Perhaps we can work on a few ideas together!