Up for a chat?

Another interesting and innovative project that I want to tell you about is ‘Up for a chat’.  This is our latest campaign which looks at tackling loneliness and isolation among older people.

Over the last ten years or so, we have seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of people who are pensioner age or older and we know that developing friendships, staying active and really being part of a community really contribute to people’s overall health and wellbeing.

This latest campaign is encouraging residents, community groups and businesses to sign up to the campaign to help some of our older residents develop those friendships and trusted contacts in the community.

All you have to do is register on the website at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/upforachat and you’ll receive a badge or wrist band which you wear.  This simply shows older people that you are ‘Up for a chat’ which makes it less daunting for people to make that approach and say hello or ask for help.  It’s a very simple idea and we are certain it will make a difference to some of the loneliest people in our communities.  If you fancy making a difference by having a chat with someone then apply for your badge.

I have mentioned this before but we are set to freeze council tax for the fourth consecutive year under budget plans going before our next cabinet meeting.  While our economy and job creation is moving in the right direction, I have said we do not want to place any extra demands on Staffordshire people’s finances, and that is why we are looking to freeze council tax again this year.

Over the last five years, we have made £130m of savings while freezing council tax, investing in our economy to create jobs and working closer with partners to get the maximum impact from the £7.5 billion of taxpayers’ money spent in Staffordshire every year.

Our income is considerably reducing, so we need to be really clear about priorities and find new, better ways of doing things. We will therefore promote greater responsibility and independence where we can to reduce sensibly the demand for public services while supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.

You will know that our key priority is to bring prosperity and jobs to Staffordshire and superfast broadband is a part of our strategy to achieve this.  We want to make sure businesses are geared up for the opportunities that this will provide and we are putting on a number of special events to help them prepare.

We really do live in a digital world these days and our events will show businesses how they can utilise broadband to enhance the way they work – whether that’s by increasing productivity, saving money or growing their business through online sales. The Social Media event is free and I’d urge businesses to take advantage of the expertise on hand.  The event is taking place on 11 February at South Staffordshire College, Rodbaston Campus starting at 8:30am.  Remember, you can also check out the progress of our superfast broadband roll out at www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk

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