I was talking recently with representatives of Soldiers off the Streets in Torquay's Union Square, and with Paul Gooding from Torbay Voice.
Paul is an ex-serviceman living still with the painful consequences of an accident as a young sailor. I was forcibly reminded both of how difficult the challenges can be that life throws at its often innocent victims and of how many people want to do something about it.
That 'something' can take many forms. We mentioned last week, for example, the impact Brixham Does Care, a befriending charity, has had on its local community, offering among many other things a drop-in centre with help and advice available to all, young and old.
Vic Ellery, its director, talked on Riviera FM's Community Hour with great pride about the army of volunteers who keep the organisation, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, running so effectively and who turn up with amazing commitment to do their vital bit.
Based at the Town Hall, in fact about to move to the ground floor and so more accessible than ever, Brixham Does Care is a testament to the compassion and dedication to others which typifies so much voluntary and community action across the Bay.
For more information about the wide range of activities and services on offer, from charity shopping to coach outings, you can visit the lively and informative website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
AS 2013 unfolds, funding is going to be still more of a challenge for the voluntary sector just as more demands are likely to be made on what it can provide.
Having said that, an impressive feature of many of our local organisations is the initiative at work in the range of fund-raising activities they engage in, from Rowcroft Hospice's major annual events to Crossroads Care's bi-monthly pub quizzes at the Dolphin pub in St Marychurch, Torquay, from charity shops to fun-runs.
As reported in last week's Herald Express, there's in fact been exciting news for the Bay in that Riviera Renaissance, the partnership bid led by the Torbay Development Agency, has been awarded £1,385,656 from the Government's Coastal Communities Fund.
Torbay Development Agency, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, Community and Voluntary Action Torbay, South Devon College, Brixham YES, Future Shores and Outset Torbay formed an innovative partnership to bid for investment from the fund, to enable coastal communities to regenerate themselves. The grant will be used to create an estimated 350 new jobs harnessing the enterprising nature of the local community and capitalising on Torbay's assets and its unique geographical position.
YET another challenge for many who are determined, again, to do 'something' is how to alert people out there to just what's available for them. To that end, Chris Sumner from Devon In Sight will be re-appearing on Community Hour next week to remind us of an important event for the visually impaired taking place at Paignton Library on Tuesday, March 5, a Sight Loss Awareness day from 10am to 4pm. This will be a fantastic opportunity to find out so much more about all the help and facilities available across the Bay, with numerous organisations involved.
TALKING on the radio with Sian and Paul from Paignton's ROC Cafe — Redeeming our Community — was an inspiring experience and another reminder of what can be done by people who care.
Offering an after-school 'mini' café for the very young early in the week and for older teenagers on Thursdays, RoC offers a variety of fun and valuable activities, including one of my favourites, cooking, and one of the truly telling facts which emerged was an amazing 50 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour since ROC was established.
We're hoping to see Paignton's Youth Café idea spread across the Bay, and a steering group with this in mind is meeting before the end of the month. If you want to find out more, visit www.roc.uk.com