Lorna Hughes with the Commissioner
Friday 2nd July 2021 – Today I visited the Bell Foundry People Zone in Loughborough as I was keen to gain a better understanding of what the ‘People Zone’s’ initiative is about, and I was told that you have to ‘see it’ to understand it.
I arrived on Russell Street in Loughborough and was greeted by colleagues from my office, Jane Hunt MP, the Neighbourhood and Partnerships Team from Charnwood Borough Council, the manager of the Marios Tinenti Centre, local Police beat team, Cllr. Leigh-Harper Davies and Cllr. Mary Draycott. We were due to be given a tour of the Bell Foundry People Zone, where agencies and organisations work together with the community and local people to support and improve their area, with less of a reliance on support services.
Firstly, I was intrigued to find out more about the Marios Tinenti Centre, also abbreviated to ‘MTC’. Did you know that the MTC, a refurbished one bed flat with facilities to support the community, was once a drug den that was burnt out and then taken on as the Community Hub in 2009? Mia – the MTC’s mascot designed during a competition, is pictured below and symbolises the heart of the community with open arms and constant growth and stands for Marios In Action (MIA).
Lorna Hughes (pictured) manages the MTC and gave me a tour around and told me all about the amazing work they do there. From tombolas and craft sessions, to mocktail nights and boxing day dinners! The work that Lorna and the team of volunteers do for the community makes a huge difference, supporting people to access services and help they need such as housing issues, and benefit support, etc. Lorna arranged for residents to be able to visit the Bell Foundry for free so that local people are aware of the assets within their communities – she also has plans to hold visits to the Carillon and Charnwood Museum to give a real insight into the history of Loughborough. The ‘Have A Go Group’ has proved popular for Lorna where local people come and try something different every week, from bell ringing or learning sign language, to scavenger hunts on Queen’s Park! Once restrictions have eased, Lorna is planning a trip to Skegness with local residents and reduced-price tickets to the pantomime. Lorna and the team are considering the possibility of expanding the MTC services in the future to other areas within the community as a ‘mobile MTC’. I was astonished at the fantastic work that goes on here to support residents within the community.
It was lovely to hear the sounds of children laughing from Cobden Primary School, and I saw gardens that had started out as nothing and are now flourishing and booming with life within communal areas, all maintained by local people involved in gardening groups and contribute to Loughborough in Bloom. I met with the Chapman Street Gardeners and was kindly invited to a planned tea party with cake – they must know me well! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Bell Foundry People Zone in action and talking to local residents, and it was great to learn more about this community.
We then moved on to visit the Falcon Centre, located within the Bell Foundry People Zone, where staff told me of the vital support that they give to homeless people within the area. The Falcon Centre supported the MTC to accommodate numbers with their popular drop-in sessions called 'Minnie's Friends'. The Falcon Centre provide a safe space, a friendly face, food, washing facilities and clothing to those in need. Originally located within the MTC, The Falcon Centre turn people’s lives around with the help of their Rehabilitation Navigator from Exaireo Trust, who has supported over 100 people this year with substance and alcohol misuse. The Falcon Centre hold boxing and weightlifting classes for residents and have recently opened a beautiful memory garden during lockdown.
The visit was finalised with some fantastic news when I handed over a cheque of £17,592 to the Falcon Centre to deliver their vitally important project called ‘The Annex’ – more information on that here: PCC delivers funding lifeline to help protect vulnerable women involved in prostitution.
I had a brilliant morning visiting the Bell Foundry People Zone and meeting the residents and organisations involved in supporting the community and I’m excited to see how my office can work closely to support the People Zone in the future.
Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland
Posted on Wednesday 7th July 2021