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Back in 2010, it was a privilege for The Door to be nominated by newly elected Stroud MP, Neil Carmichael, as his chosen charity. Over the past 5 years, Neil has been on hand to support us in events and fundraisers, and has advocated for us in many ways.

MP Neil Carmichael with Barry Voyce, Anne Townsend, Lizzie Hewlett and Harry Gardner
MP Neil Carmichael with Barrie Voyce, Anne Townsend, Lizzie Hewlett and Harry Gardner

Following his re-election, I took the opportunity to invite him in for a chat to understand how we might be able to work more closely over the next 5 years. Neil’s visit coincided with the announcement that he has become chair of the Education Select Committee, a committee he has served on for a number of years.

I know Neil is passionate about education, and in particular how it relates to the business world. We chatted about how The Door seeks to help young people become ‘work ready’ through our Focused Intervention Youthwork, offers work experience across all areas of our business, and seeks to find opportunities for young people to transition into work from either school, college or unemployment.

We also understand that as a local charity a vibrant local economy full of successful businesses is vital. It is vital to provide the job opportunities, retail experiences and social settings for the whole community, and for us in particular young people, but it is vital too for us to succeed. We cannot rely on individual donations or grants from large trust funds alone. Business can support the work of The Door through their Corporate Social Responsibility. This might mean making a financial contribution – like Provident UK has done for the past 6 years; releasing staff to do volunteer work – like the team from TSB who recently decorated our meeting and counselling rooms; or offering services in kind – like MBS Systems and Networks who installed our new IT network free of charge.

We also need to understand how we can support local business too – whether that be helping them to understand the needs of new, young employees, advertising their vacancies, or ensuring we encourage everyone to shop local.

Finally, being a part of the local churches’ response to the needs of our community is really important. Over the past year we’ve made some exciting links with individual churches like Dursely Tab, and are keen to develop more over the next year. We’re also supporting Street Pastors Stroud – a great para-church response to the needs of the night-time economy in our town. Like The Door, Street Pastors seek to share God’s love for people right where they’re at.

We all have a part to play in keeping Stroud a fabulous place to live, whatever age we are!

We all have a part to play…