After a very foggy evening of campaigning in Yardley I was offered tea and biscuits by two lovely hosts Ann and Pat. Like many residents they have very little information about the election or role of PCC. They wanted details not headlines and how was I going to influence policing in their area. A few cups of tea and many biscuits later I had satisfied them of my intentions and they were happy to give me the 'thumbs up'. I have will have at least 2 votes on 15th November, let's make it 200,000 plus and get your friends and family to vote as well.

Hi all, well it is official. I am now formally a candidate for the PCC election. I obtained 100 signatures for nomination and provided a deposit of £5,000 so I am on the way to voting day on 15th November.
All I need from you is some help to pass out campaign material. Have a look at the hustings list on the first page of my website and come along to the events.
Have a look at all the candidates and decide who can do the best job for you.
Many thanks to all the people who supported me with their signatures.

A trip to Coventry saw me engaged with U3A (Current Affairs Group) – ‘The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for the Universities of Third Age (U3As) in the UK.  U3As are self-help, self-managed lifelong learning co-operatives for older people no longer in full time work, providing opportunities for their members to share learning experiences in a wide range of interest groups and to pursue learning not for qualifications, but for fun’.

An hour and a half later, I was worn out. Over 40 knowledgeable and inquisitive people debated and questioned the election process and role of PCC. They were frankly astounded that so little information was available for such an important and influential position.

They were concerned that the reduction in police resources would negatively impact on Coventry with staff being drawn back to Birmingham. They were aware of the reduction of police dogs and the realignment of the police helicopters to the National Air Unit. In summary they were worried that policing Birmingham would become a priority and Coventry would have fewer resources.

I provided some reassurance that as PCC I review the resourcing levels across the West Midlands and explain the model used to assess resourcing v demand.

They thought that the PCC would be based in Birmingham so they were surprised when I said I would have travel to different areas so I became a familiar figure across the West Midlands.

My thanks to Bob Rouse and the Current Affairs Group for a testing debating and the cup of coffee.    

www.patbensonboxingacademy.co.uk -
I visited the Pat Benson Boxing Academy, Unit 2, 50 Adderley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4ED.
I wanted to find out how the Academy worked with young people and connected with the local community. Over 300 children have been touched by their 'tough love' approach and it seems to work with many returning week after week and every summer.
One of their stars is Claire, a local mum who piled on the weight after child birth, so she plucked up the courage and visited the gym. After lots of aching muscles, great determination and encouragement from the trainers she lost 8 stone. Fantastic, you rock Claire, well done.
The principal coach is Pat Benson (Junior) who is expanding the community connections so Claire is now providing a Ladies Only coaching class for Muslim ladies at their own venue.
The gym has training session for all groups the young, elderly and ladies.
Pat has encouraged local schools to bring along classes of children to experience the gym discipline. The teachers were very surprised to see even the most ill disciplined children accepting the rules of the gym and doing press ups and sit ups on direction.
So it is very disappointing to find out that funding has been drastically cut. This is an example of the type of community venture that should be supported to provide alternative activities in the community.

Attended Handsworth Schoolympics Closing Ceremony and met some fantastic children and adult role models. Posed with Whistle, the key character in a very successful initiative to improve behaviour and eating habits of children during their lunch break. The following press release provides additional detail.

Handsworth Schoolympics celebrates local school sports heroes with its very own Closing Ceremony
• Medals awarded to young winners, certificates for participating schools
• Closing ceremony attracts star appearances
Handsworth Association of Schools (HAS) represents 31 schools and is a registered charity based in Handsworth, Birmingham. It has worked with local schools throughout the Summer to host the Handsworth Schoolympic Games. To mark the end of the Handsworth Games and present the winners and runners up with their medals, the HAS charity hosted an official Closing Ceremony.
Over 2,800 children from 24 schools across Handsworth took part in the Handsworth Schoolympics, competing in a number of sports including football, hockey, badminton and gymnastics. This has been part of National School Games Programme driven by a number of government department as part of the sports strategy . The children had their own mascot, “Whistle” who cheered them on throughout and taught them the value of healthy eating and keeping fit.
Whistle is part of ‘Lunchtime Heroes’, a positive behaviour initiative to improve lunch time experiences in primary schools.
The Closing Ceremony, attended by the young sporting heroes and their teachers , also saw a special guest appearance from Handsworth Games mascot Whistle and Jarryd Dunn, an athlete from Birchfield Harriers and Winner of The British Universities & Colleges Championships 400m . Also attending was Ben Smoldon who is a local hero in his own right and was a torch bearer for the Para olympics. A special ceremonial cake was made for the occasion and a number of specially designed medals and certificates were awarded.
Jo Nightingale, Sports Development Director from Hamstead Hall school who has been seconded to the HAS charity, said: “The 2012 Olympics were a huge success and it’s wonderful to have been able to bring them to life for so many local children in our very own Handsworth Games. We’re thrilled to have worked with so many fantastic schools, pupils and teachers on this initiative, and what better way to finish it off than with our very own Handsworth Olympic Closing Ceremony!”
Cath Hannon, independent candidate for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner also attended the Closing Ceremony and spent her childhood in Handsworth. She added: “The team at HAS continues to deliver outstanding work with the local community and the Handsworth Schoolympics is a fantastic example of the lasting positive impact they’ve made to the children and schools. The charity has lit the spirit of motivation, endurance and being the best you can be in every young competitor that took part in the games.
Ben Smoldon said’ “The children have inspired me to keep the Olympic spirit going in society and communities. My role as a torch bear was a tiny part of the Games but one that made me immensely proud and honored to have been selected. These youngsters are the future and I have really enjoyed the event today.”
A number of pupils who took part in the games have been identified for their outstanding talents and will be taking part in further high profile sporting activities.

The Knit and Natter section of the Womens Institute made me very welcome as I popped in to talk about the election and role of the PCC. They were no push over,very  challenging, demanding details and information. They were  quite scathing of the Government for failing to provide adequate information. A great debate and lovely group  of ladies.
Thank you for letting me join you for the morning.

I spent time with Pop In and Play, a mum and toddler group run by volunteers at St James Church in Mere Green. Boy oh boy what a busy morning for the volunteers and the primary organisor Penny Bowkett.
Over 80 mums and children to mind and organise.
My thoughts of having a chat with the mums were soon dismissed when faced with a wall of noise - laughter, crying babies and chatting adults. I reduced my pitch to 15  - 30 seconds for each group of adults and remained in the reception area to answer questions. 

Most people took a few moments to chat as they flew passed attending to the needs of their children.  A repeat concern was the lack of information about the election and understanding of the role.
The volunteers are a very busy group of ladies who have committed many years to running the group. They provide a very valuable resource for the community
and make a lovely cup of tea as well.

Next hustings is 7pm Monday 15 October at The Birmingham City Centre Residents Neighbourhood Forum, Museum and Art Gallery, Learning Zone. Come along and share your views.

The majority of hustings events have been in Birmingham but all the candidates are prepared to travel across the West Midlands so let us know if you want us to travel to you.

A well attended meeting with lots of discussion about how the PCC could practically support victims and witnesses. The questions from the audience were varied and included how the relationship with Local Authorities would work, weaknesses of the Criminal Court system, issues related to human trafficking. Other questions included police management of individuals with mental health issues, removal of DNA samples from the data base, commissioning process for specialist services, Integrated Offender Management and restorative justice.
My commitment to 'Putting People First'  resonates with the ethos of Victim Support to provide services that support people and not processes.
My thanks to Brian Senior and the staff from Victim Support who organised the hustings.  

A reminder that the husting promoted by Victim Support is at 10am on Friday 12 October at the Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AF. All welcome with refreshments at 0930 on wards

Police and Crime Commissioner, PCC, putting people first, West Midlands, Cath Hannon, Cath, Hannon, female, woman