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Raising aspirations vital for Poole’s future

Raising aspirations in people and communities was the subject of Poole's State of the Area Debate, held on Monday 1 December at the Civic Centre.

Well attended by local businesses, as well as public and voluntary sector partners and local residents, this annual meeting of the council provides the opportunity to discuss topical issues and influence the work of the council.

The Mayor of Poole, Cllr Peter Adams, welcomed around 100 local people and businesses to the year’s debate which focused on raising aspirations in Poole.

In a specially recorded message, The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary for State for Works and Pensions, congratulated Poole on the innovative initiative it is pursuing in partnership with the national employment charity 'Tomorrow's People'. Headed up by Baroness Debbie Stedman Scott and local GPs, the initiative is supporting people furthest from the workplace into work. This pilot followed the presentation at last year's debate by Tomorrow's People.

Speakers on Monday shared how their aspirations had been raised and their careers developed. Hannah Allen of Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, is originally from Liverpool and is now supporting the creation of social enterprises in her work at The Factory, Alder Hills Centre for Social Enterprise Excellence. Stephanie Stevenson, Dorset born and raised and now founder and manager of HNB Salons, said how she had established her own business and now employs young people from Bournemouth & Poole College helping to raise their aspirations. Seun Olason of Fog Beaty Limited told of her difficulty in finding work and being made redundant and how she went on to create her own business.

An 'any questions' style panel chaired by Richard Dimbleby, Chair of Poole Partnership, answered questions on how we can raise aspirations and empower communities and people to achieve their potential. Those on the panel included:

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Leader of Borough of Poole
Cllr Mike Brooke, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Poole
Lawrence Vincent, Principal of Bournemouth & Poole College
Francesca Reed, Member of Youth Parliament

Mayor of Poole, Cllr Peter Adams, said: "Last year’s State of the Area Debate focused on skills and the needs of businesses. That debate has successfully influenced the work of the council and partners, as can be seen by the launch of the pop up shop in Poole High Street and the support being provided for small and medium sized businesses by WSX Enterprises. I am looking forward to seeing similar success following this year’s debate in raising aspirations in Poole."

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Leader of the Council, Borough of Poole, said: "It was inspiring to hear the aspirational journeys of our speakers, telling of how their own careers have successfully developed and how what seems to be failure can bring out the best in people. Following this debate I was encouraged to hear businesses say that they would like to do more in partnership and in schools to prepare our young people for their future needs and to engage with Poole sponsored Young Enterprise Scheme currently working with over 30 schools in Dorset."

Cllr Mike Brooke, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Borough of Poole, said: "It was really interesting listening to the keynote speakers and gaining an insight into what motivated them, and how they were now making best use of their experiences. It is very clear that the business community needs to work much more closely with our schools and the council to ensure that Poole's young people develop the skills that will enable them to fulfil their ambitions."