Welcome to Brighton & Hove

downloadToday is the start of term at both Brighton and Sussex Universities which means that Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings have had the privilege over the last few days of welcoming many thousands of students to enjoy the opportunity of living here in Sussex for the first time. The students at Chichester have been studying there for several weeks. There is an adage that when visiting somewhere new, that visitors should leave the place as they found it. However if you type that phrase into Google all of the items listed speak of leaving the place in a better condition than you found it. When visiting somewhere new the opportunity to be inspired or to learn and expand ones thinking processes can be life changing. The same is true for this year’s intake of students; we hope they will be changed by the experience but also that they will help us improve our towns and cities for the better whilst they are here. It is hard to compare Brighton or Eastbourne today with the places I found when I first arrived in Sussex 39 years ago. The quality of life has improved dramatically for many of the residents of the various localities, but so too has the cost of living, particularly that of housing. Couple that with the cost of being a student and it is inevitable that for many of the newly arrived students, that their focus will be on more than just what lectures they are expected to attend in the next week or two. A few weeks ago I met someone who works for the University of Brighton who explained their schemes for mentoring students who require additional support. It was inspiring to discover just how many mechanisms the University puts in place to ensure that the students who are arrived to obtain qualifications and expand their thinking do not get ignored if they are struggling with accommodation or other matters. Despite all of the glitz and glamour of our city, there are many challenges living here that require help to get over. The same is true in other parts of Sussex. Along with the care taken by the Universities we have one of the most vibrant voluntary sectors in the UK and many of the charities that are set up to help people rely on volunteers to operate. Even the University depends in part on volunteers to assist some of its support networks. One of the great opportunities for students to help leave our community in a better condition than when they arrived is through volunteering and whilst many students are understandably fully committed to working to help pay the bills and studying to obtain their qualifications, numerous studies have shown how much volunteering can be of benefit to the volunteer as well as the people their work supports. Just as we want all students to feel supported throughout their time here in Sussex, so too we welcome their huge contribution to helping improve our society.  I can think of several charities I have been involved with over recent years that have benefited enormously from previous cohorts of students volunteering. Some have done so as an extension to their course studies and others in a more general way. However the years ahead gives all new students the chance to give and take from various sources and to help us improve our the communities which will hopefully be part of the support they receive.

Along with the latest intake of students, this week is the point in the year when we are visited by a political party for their annual conference. This year we are hosting Labour who just like this year’s intake of students are most welcome to enjoy our city and its facilities. Hopefully they will find ways to inspire our Councillors to work more effectively, leaving us in a better condition than when they arrived! Their visit is not a new experience, I recall reading how the Dome which used to be linked to the Methodist Church, acted as the place where Labour delegates led by Harold Wilson began their conference with a church service. Then about a decade ago I took part in several services at St Peters which were attended by Tony Blair. The Baptist, One Church is now the venue of choice and yesterday several Labour party members took part in that service. I recall a few days after I arrived in Brighton that the Conservatives held their annual Conference at the Brighton Centre. This was long before steel and concrete separated delegates from the public and I recall taking photographs of Margaret Thatcher as she walked without any protection into the Brighton Centre from the Grand Hotel. My photo appeared on the front page of the student magazine the following week!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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