Filling in the blanks from the 1964 and 1986 Labour Groups

I am very grateful to Harry Steer for filling in the last remaining gaps from the 1964 Labour Group.  Harry is the last survivor from that era.  The missing councillors were: Arthur King, Jim Currie, Arthur Skinner, Dennis Woolley and Arthur Illman (who was actually an Alderman along with Bert Briggs and Stanley Deason). Thanks, too, to Pam Montgomery for mentioning her dad, Harry George, one of the 1964 Vintage.

The 1964 Labour Group included Harry Steer, Ray Blackwood, Dennis Hobden, Bert Briggs, Nobby Clarke, George Humphrey, Stanley Deason, Stan Fitch, Idwal Francis, Don Ranger, Bill Sheldon, Bert Clack, Graham Carter, Bob Millard, Harry George, Arthur King, Jim Currie, Arthur Skinner, Dennis Woolley and Arthur Illman.

Harry does make the point that in 1964 there were women Labour councillors.

As for the 1986 Labour Administration, the 24th and final member, who I had omitted, was Jon Allen.  Thanks for all the hints and suggestions.  Several people mentioned were County Councillors because, until 1997, we had two tiers of local government which was replaced by the Unitary Authority.

So the complete list is: Ian Duncan, Mick Johnson, Joyce Edmond-Smith, Pat Hawkes, Ray Blackwood, Tehm Framroze, David Lepper, Chris Morley, Brian Fitch, Gill Sweeting, Christine Simpson, Jenny Backwell, Jacqui Lythell, Joe Townsend, Richard Stanton, Steve Bassam, Bob Davies, Nobby Clarke, Denis Hobden, Brennan Turner, Arthur King, Gill Haynes, Jon Allen and Andy Winter.

Can anyone remember who the Chief Whip was?  The one who imposed discipline on the Group?  You might just be surprised…..

How Labour took control, with the assistance of the Conservative Mayor, can be found in my tribute to that Mayor, Bob Cristofili.


It’s Living Wage Week: why all employers in Brighton and Hove should sign up

It’s Living Wage week.  In Brighton and Hove there are now 463 employers who have  joined the campaign and over 3,100 wages have been raised since the campaign began 6 years ago! I am delighted that BHT was one of the first organisations to sign up.

The Brighton Living Wage Campaign is unique in the UK as it is the only one led by the business community through the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce.

This picture is from the launch and includes BHT’s then Director of Corporate Affairs, Kate Thomas.  Of the twelve people in the photo just three remain in post – Sarah Springford (Director of the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce), Julie Roff (President of the Chamber), and Katy Bourne (the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner).

The new Living Wage rates have been announced: £9 per hour for the UK and £10.55 per hour for London.

Existing Living Wage employers have until April to implement the new rate, while new sign ups from today forward will need to commit to paying this rate right away. The Living Wage is reviewed every year, independently calculated by the Resolution Foundation based on the average costs of leading a decent life in the UK.

If your organisation is not yet signed up, why delay.  Being a Living Wage Employer sends a very positive message to your employees and to the wider community, and it makes a difference to people on the lowest incomes, not least in a high cost, low wage area like Brighton and Hove.  Sign up today.

Remembering the members of the first ever Labour Council in Brighton, elected in 1986

Yesterday I wrote an item regarding Ray Blackwood who passed away recently.  (His funeral is at 12 noon on Thursday 8th November at Woodvale Crematorium, Brighton).

I was contacted by someone who said that Ray was just one of two surviving members of the 1964 Labour Group on Brighton Borough Council, the other being Harry Steer.

The 1964 Labour Group included Harry Steer, Ray Blackwood, Dennis Hobden, Bert Briggs, Nobby Clarke, George Humphrey, Stanley Deason, Stan Fitch, Idwal Francis, Don Ranger, Bill Sheldon, Bert Clack, Graham Carter, Bob Millard.

This was before my time.  Has anyone got any further names and even, perhaps, a photo?  I would love to see it.

All of this got me thinking about the first Labour administration in Brighton, elected 32 years ago in 1986.  I tried to remember the names of all 23 of my colleagues.  I listed 22 but got stuck on the final two.  The I realised I  hadn’t included myself, but for the life of me I can’t remember the 24th member.  Can anyone help?

The seven women Labour councillors in 1986 (l-r) Christine Simpson, Pat Hawkes, Gill Sweeting, Joyce Edmond-Smith, Jacqui Lythell, Jenny Backwell and Gill Haynes

The 23 were: Ian Duncan, Mick Johnson, Joyce Edmond-Smith, Pat Hawkes, Ray Blackwood, Tehm Framroze, David Lepper, Chris Morley, Brian Fitch, Gill Sweeting, Christine Simpson, Jenny Backwell, Jacqui Lythell, Joe Townsend, Richard Stanton, Steve Bassam, Bob Davies, Nobby Clarke, Denis Hobden, Brennan Turner, Arthur King, Gill Haynes and me.

What is very sad is that, with Ray’s passing, over a third of the 1986 administration are no longer with us.

Labour was only able to take control thanks to the decision of the outgoing Conservative Mayor, Bob Cristofili, who used his casting vote in favour of the Labour nominee, Jacqui Lythell, having used his personal vote to support the Conservative nominee.  The vote had been tied 24-24.  Bob passed away recently.  You can find my tribute to him here.

Remembering Ray Blackwood (1928-2018): a thoroughly decent man

It was with very great sadness that I heard about the death of Ray Blackwood at the age of 90. Ray was one of life’s great enthusiasts, always retaining an optimistic outlook and remaining positive, even when experiencing set backs. 

Ray was a councillor on the old Brighton Borough Council for many, many years. He first represented the area off Lewes Road (I think it was called the Lewes Road Ward but I might be mistaken) before moving to represent Stanmer Ward in 1983 when the ward boundaries were redrawn. He served as Mayor of Brighton in 1987/88,the second year of Labour control. I sadly missed his year as Mayor as I had lost my seat in 1987 before being re-elected in 1988.

Ray was always upbeat, enthusiastic about anything and everything he turned his hands to. He encouraged newly elected councillors and always was willing to offer support and advice.

Ray and his wife Marilyn were regulars on the Great Dieppe Trip, an annual pilgrimage to Dieppe organised by the late Peter Avis who should be credited for the survival of the Newhaven-Dieppe line. (The civic authorities in Dieppe have acknowledged this by naming a square in Central Dieppe after Peter).

Ray Blackwood was the ultimate Europhile. He spoke several European languages and travelled widely. He would have been distraught by the impending Brexit.  

Ray used to volunteer at Labour Party Conferences when they were held in Brighton, and he got to know many of Labour’s leaders over the years.  I have a copy of Denis Healey’s autobiography, The Time of My Life, which Healey had inscribed for Ray, which Ray later donated as a raffle prize.

After Ray lost his seat in 1992, the victim of a landslide against Labour, exacerbated by a very fractured Labour Party locally, he stood unsuccessfully in Woodingdean. He contributed a regular community column to the Argus focusing on Woodingdean, until the Argus made the shortsighted and ultimately cataclysmic decision to cut community coverage in an ill-judged attempt to appeal to London commuters, thereby destroying its readership base. The Argus has never recovered.

Ray is survived by his Wife, Marilyn, and their daughter, Yvette.

I will always remember Ray as a happy man, and optimistic man, and a man with great generosity of spirit. He was a thoroughly, thoroughly decent personand I am glad that I knew him.

Real Life Story: Overcoming addiction and homelessness, and finding housing through BHT’s Phase One Project

Becs was referred to the service in April 2013 losing her accommodation. She had previously had her own independent tenancies but these had broken down due to rent arrears issues which had led to her entering a negative cycle and her engagement with support services had decreased.

Her physical health was also poor due to her long-term alcohol and drug addiction which had also impacted her psychological well-being as she had been struggling with establishing positive sleep patterns causing her to feel depressed.

When she came to Phase One she wanted to work towards her own independent accommodation again and to re-establish contact with her son. Although she had previously struggled with engaging with a keyworker and external services she accepted that this could be a fresh start for her to make positive goal orientated changes to achieve her overall aspirations.  She was offered a place at the service and moved in later that month.

Due to the difficulties that Becs had experienced in forming a positive relationship with her previous keyworkers, the early work focused on establishing a positive working relationship which she led and was outcomes focused so that she could acknowledge positive change. As the relationship developed with her keyworker, her substance use issues stabilised and she re-engaged with treatment from Pavilions (a local drug and alcohol service).

With her substance use issues stabilised, Becs was able to begin to focus on her long-term goal of meeting the criteria for accommodation and she began to engage with in-house activities to build structure and routine into her day which led to an improvement in her mental well-being.

She continued to make steady progress, and she continued to reduce her drug and alcohol use to a maintenance level.  She applied successfully for a place in the projects pre-tenancy flat (the last step before being supported to apply for a tenancy).  This created another point of achievement for the client on her journey through the service.

Once she had settled in to living in this more independent setting, the focus of the support moved towards establishing further daily structure, reducing her usage to a point where she was free from illicit substance use, and was developing and brushing up on her life skills.

At the 5 month point in her stay in the pre-tenancy flat, Becs went on the projects camping trip which was held in the summer of 2016. This acted as a further positive catalyst for her.  She found the experience really useful in helping her to begin to think about a life outside of the hostel and what she needed to do next to access independent accommodation.

On her return to the project she applied to work at a local charity shop which proved to be so successful that she now supports the manager in the running of the shop which has in turn helped to keep her focused and illicit drug free.

At the point that she had been clean of illicit substances for over three months she was supported in her application for housing.  She has recently been informed that she has been successful and is now awaiting confirmation of an offer of a home of her own.

I have just done something really ill-advised … I’ve responded to comments left on the Brighton Argus website about BHT

I rarely, if ever, comment on the Brighton Argus website.  However, rather foolishly, I have just done so.  I am sure I will regret it!

The Argus is carrying a report on the celebrations to mark BHT’s 50th anniversary.  Our guests were treated to a couple of flights on the Brighton i360.  Inevitably, the comments on the Argus website talked about BHT spending money on the ‘high life’ and massively misrepresented what BHT does and what it costs us to deliver the services we provide.

This is the comment I left:

“I don’t usually read or respond to comments on the Argus website as most people who do comment seem incapable of holding a rational, reasoned debate, without resorting to abuse. Please prove me wrong when responding to this comment!

“BHT did not pay for the i360 flights. They were a generous donation. Also, to say we helped just over 1,000 people last year and at a huge cost shows a misunderstanding of the facts.

“Last year we helped 222 people to move off the streets and into accommodation, as well as prevented 817 households from becoming homeless. In addition we provided housing for over 500 households, provided accommodation for 126 people in our mental health services, 53 young people in our young people’s service in Hastings, detox and drug rehabilitation for 115 people through our Addiction Services, and a further 136 places in services for former rough sleepers. 432 people took part in activities at the Whitehawk Inn, and 431 people received support and help from our Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, including 151 women from Threshold Women’s Counselling Service.

“So no spending on the ‘high life’, just a small fraction of our income goes on ‘admin’. Where our money comes from and where it goes is all made public through our annual accounts. But why let facts interfere with ignorance and prejudice?”

BHT at 50: The moving speech by my colleague, Donna

At BHT’s 40th anniversary, a client called Donna spoke movingly about her journey through addiction and into recovery.  She spoke again last Tuesday (16th October 2018) at an event to mark BHT’s 50th anniversary.  This is her moving, inspirational talk:

“For those who weren’t at the 40th anniversary I did shared at about 6 months free from substances.

I have to say I feel slightly more nervous today than I did back then.

I was determined to share my gratitude for an organisation that helped to save my life all those years ago.

When I first entered the BHT services over 10 years ago. I wasn’t just recovering from substances, I was recovering from everything that went along side it.

  • I was a child who spent my teenage years growing up in children homes.
  • I was recovering from all the loss I experienced because of my addiction.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Traumatic childhood.
  • Street homeless.
  • Health issues because of my addiction.

I believe the help that I have received over the years as enabled me to heal and recover one day at a time.

Now 10 years later I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am here sharing my story which blows me away. The young girl that came into treatment isn’t the same girl today. Reflecting on this is what really blows me away.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the projects that helped me to save my life.

There are projects that I haven’t used but we all know all our projects play an important part in our residents and clients life’s.

I would like to take a moment to thank ………

I learnt to take responsibility for my life and was shown a level of care that I had never been shown before. This helped me on my journey of self-love which I found so hard and introduced me to a 12-step programme which really helped me to maintain my recovery for all of these years.

Taught me how to live more independently whilst still having the support from keyworkers and my peers.  This was a very important part of my recovery as it helped me to grow up. I now work for the Move on project and I am keen to continue to learn and grow alongside our residents with a great a team and office.

I was able to be of service buddying and supporting others who had once been where I had been. Giving back was a very important part of my recovery as this helped me with my self-worth.

I was able to receive the much-needed therapy which helped me to form a better understanding of myself and allowed me to heal.  I went on to Peer mentor at Thresholds then many years later I went back and got an opportunity to work with them. This is where I started to learn to be part of a team.

I learnt so much at this project. I was employed with them for over a year which taught me a lot of skills. Like managing a small case load. The work that fulfilling lives do to help professionals to help improve services for our most complex clients from service user involvement is truly amazing.

We spent a year working together with both Rise and Fulfilling Lives offering a safe place for women to access the service. We were made to feel welcome and I really enjoyed this piece of work and seeing first-hand the great work that happens there.

For the support I received around job interviews.

I did have to go away to learn more about myself before I started working for BHT as I needed to do more growing. I went away studied, had my daughter and came back 8 years later as a paid worker, but I was lucky enough to always be connected to BHT with bits of volunteering and buddying.

I’d like to finish on this.

I heard this saying a while ago:

“There is nothing wrong with aiming high in life and achieving our goals and dreams. Just don’t forget to hold your hand out and help the next person up”

That’s how I see BHT an organisation which holds out hands out to help the next person up, so we can all achieve.

There are many of us here who been through BHT services and are now paid workers. I believe we are prime examples of our Missions: creating opportunities and promoting change.

I truly have so much gratitude for BHT. I believe if I didn’t get the much-needed help and support I received then, my life would look very different today.

Thank you