Meetings of this kind, organised by Grandads Front Room founder Danny Dawes, used to be held every quarter, giving members of the community a chance to have their say on a variety of issues, but had to be stopped due to the complications of the pandemic.
Yesterday’s event, which brought councillors from Bognor Regis Town Council, Arun District and the County Council together with food bank volunteers, staff from Crimsham Farm, Family Support Work and a variety of other community groups, was the first such meeting held in almost eighteen months.
Addressing the group, Bognor Regis town councillor Wayne Smith, summarised the meeting’s ethos and aims.
“I think it is important, especially at this time, that we come together. We can do more as a collaborative whole, than as individuals. If I can help you in any way, whether that be funding, advice, or whatever it might be. I will always be there for you all.
“For me it is about this town, its not about politics, it is not about anything else. It is about giving what we can to the community.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the topic of conversation, which ranged from food poverty, to environmental sustainability, to regeneration and more.
Each member of the meeting put wrote their name down on a piece of paper, which was pulled at random. Whoevers name was pulled got a chance to take centre stage and talk for two minutes, explaining who they were, what they did and what they hoped to get out of the meeting.
Alongside putting future plans in motion, organiser Danny Dawes made clear that the meeting was a chance for members of different organisations to meet up and make contact with another, to established connections which might prove beneficial for future projects.
Although many members of the meeting were directly involved with some organisations, others were simply members of the public who had arrived to make their voices heard across a number of issues.
As Mayor Steve Goodheart made clear, this was one of the great strengths of the format.
“We are very excited about having a public meeting where questions about Bognor can be asked, where you do not have to be part of a group to take part, where people can take this opportunity to talk about some of their concerns about Bognor,” he said.