Parliament has now broken up for the summer which is a good opportunity to catch up with work in Cornwall. During August, I hold public meetings around the constituency so that people have an opportunity to ask questions or discuss individual problems they might need help with and I also try to visit as many parish and town councils as possible.
This week one of the meetings I held was at Pengegon. I have followed the growing confidence in Pengegon in recent years with interest. It is a great example of how having a few people in a community willing to make that initial effort can spread really quickly and inspire the rest of the neighbourhood too. I am not pretending that all is rosy in the garden. Pengegon undoubtedly has its share of poverty and these are difficult times. At my meeting this week, concerns about youth unemployment loomed large. But there is also growing pride and commitment within this community and that really matters.
Pengegon is often named as being the most deprived area in Cornwall. I have always thought that politicians and councillors should be careful when talking in broad terms about “deprived communities” because there is a danger they sound patronising. Many of those who live in Pengegon will have overcome adversity in their lives that a desk bound official could not understand and they are often more grounded and more resilient people because of that.
Last year when council officials published figures which cast Pengegon in a negative light, there was something of a backlash. Local residents called in the West Briton and let it be known in no uncertain terms that they were tired of seeing their community talked down and they highlighted some of the good work being done by local residents. Quite right too.
There are now some sixty young people taking part in football training sessions; there is a basketball team; a few weeks ago 22 people from the estate attended a training session at Stithians lake to learn about course fishing which looks set to continue; there are support groups for young parents and next Thursday the whole community will hold its annual family Fun Day which was really well attended when I went last year. Most important of all, people have become more neighbourly and look out for one another. Crime and anti-social behaviour in the area has tumbled.
There is more to do and top of the list is accelerating the plan to build a long awaited, new community centre to pull all the good work together under one roof and we also need to bring new industries and better paid jobs to Camborne. But the progress at Pengegon is proof that where there is a will, there is a way.
George Eustice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.