24 October 2010

Ham Amenities Group and Latchmere House

Ham Amenities Group (HAG) works to preserve the character of the area and I am proud to be a member.

They manage the local Ham Fair and other such activities well and so I have not felt the need to get actively involved and am content to do my little bit for the cause by paying my annual membership fee, a very modest £3 to which I add an equally modest £2.

In return for this I get an occasional newsletter that keeps me informed about some of the goings on in Ham, particularly any major planning applications.

I also get invited to their Annual General Meeting which took place this week.

The business part of the AGM passed quickly without controversy and we were soon on to the guest speaker and the reason that I went to the meeting.

A prison officer and a chaplain had come to tell us about the work at Latchmere House, which currently serves as a resettlement prison, one of only three in the country.

We were given an interesting insight in to how the prison works to reintegrate prisoners in to society. They go there at the end of their sentence and while they are locked up overnight during the day they go out to work in real jobs earning real wages.

We heard many positive stories about the prison which were only clouded by the impending Comprehensive Spending Review that was due to hit later that week. With the Prison Service's budget slashed by around 30% it is hard to believe that Latchmere House will keep its innovative remit.

The success of HAG suggests that there might be some hope for the Big Society but the average age of the people there (I was probably the youngest person) shows that there is still a lot to do to get everybody involved.

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