Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath on the UN Day to Eradicate Poverty 2011


Brookwood Cemetery Glade

The Glades, Brookwood Cemetery

The Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath joined the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty at Brookwood Cemetery on Saturday 15 October, in the run up to the United Nations international day to end poverty (which occurs annually on 17 October).

We were there to pay our respects to the Paupers of London in the 1850’s. This is about the only time of the year when the pauper’s graves get visited and remembered, so a special time. In the mid-nineteenth century the volume of London's dead was causing public concern. So in 1850 the idea of a great metropolitan cemetery, situated in the suburbs and large enough to contain all of London's dead, was promoted. The outcome was Brookwood Cemetery, the largest burial ground in the world when it was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis & Mausoleum Company.

I interviewed Mayor Tim Dodds, on his thoughts about the UN Day to End Poverty, and poverty locally in the borough.


On the United Nations Day to Eradicate Poverty…

The Mayor says: “The United Nations Day to End Poverty is a laudable thing and just focuses peoples minds on those that have little or nothing”.

On poverty in Surrey Heath ….

Surrey Heath has pockets of poverty. The Old Dean, St Michael’s and Watchetts have the highest numbers of 0-19 year olds in poverty in the county.

On local poverty the Mayor says: “Poverty exists everywhere. Those with money will be in poverty quite quickly if they loose their job they are unable to afford the lifestyle that they currently have. Recently I was at Avenue Sucy at a church led event, celebrating the people who live there, and trying to say to them that they are not forgotten. People understand some of the difficulties that some of them live with. Their issues are recognised by a number of organisations in the borough.

Surrey Heath does have pockets of poverty which we need to recognise, and I think as a borough, we do pretty well. It’s a very volunteering conscious borough, and lots of organisations do fantastic work, more so than people recognise. Whilst poverty exists in part of the borough, there is recognition that it exists, and there is a willingness to do something about it”.

On the role of voluntary organisations in eradicating poverty…

Mayor Tim Dodds says: “I don’t have any vision for any greater role for the charities and organisations in the borough than we currently have. There are a huge number of them, supported by dedicated volunteers. I’m sure most voluntary organisations can’t do any more. I spoke to somebody last night who’s a governor of a school, a trustee of the Frimley Fuel Allotments and a number of other things. These people who want to volunteer and contribute make a difference in a big way, because they use most of their time to do voluntary work. We just need more volunteers, I think that’s the solution”.

Mayor Tim Dodds ponders over a Pauper's Grave

Mayor Tim Dodds pays his respects at the Pauper's Graves, Brookwood Cemetery

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