About ten years ago a postgrad student handed me a translation text for approval in which a doctor attempted to describe for civil servants the demographic problems facing Germany as far as the health service was concerned. His predictions were centred around 2050. He pointed out the need for volunteers; otherwise the system would collapse, he said. For a country that believes so much in specialist qualifications this was quite a controversial conclusion.
The idea that volunteers should start practising surgery would probably be dismissed even in our country. But without the massive numbers of volunteers in places like Todmorden, the strain on the NHS would be even greater. Calderdale does provide funding for Healthy Minds, but the bulk of the labour force are unpaid volunteers, running regular meetings in the Health Centre and providing art therapy, Knit and Natter sessions, coffee mornings and so much more.
The links between art and mental health are well established, so Todmorden is particularly fortunate to have its very own, award-winning Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society at the Hippodrome (right opposite the Health Centre), the Todmorden Orchestra, the Choral Society, the Community Brass Band, the Three Valleys Gospel Choir, and lots of courses for those wishing to develop artistic skills, whether in sewing, painting, or willow weaving.
The Health Centre and TAODS are working together at the moment, so I look forward to seeing alterations on renewal to the Health Centre’s counterintuitive parking contract which at present excludes or discourages the disabled from visiting the Hippodrome at all.
Finally, we have our volunteering emergency services entirely focused on the well-being of our communities. Todmorden Flood Group immediately springs to mind. Not only were they working from the small hours of 16th March to mitigate the effects of flooding, but on the following day they made themselves available for consultation in Roomfield Baptist Church over bread and soup.
Our other emergency service, which I might have mentioned in this column before, is of course Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team. Fundraising efforts continue, the next one being this Saturday. The difference this time is that the event won’t only be drumming up much needed money for CVSRT, for proceeds will be split 50:50 with Daniel Bath’s charity Music for the Many, which pays music teachers to go into Todmorden primary schools and give free music lessons. The charity also, where possible, provides musical instruments to those who cannot afford them. We are back, I think, to the subject of health: the money will be divided between long-term mental health (playing a musical instrument) and shorter term emergency assistance.
If you’re not sure what ‘Jazzical’ means, come along and find out.
Cllr Andy Hollis, Town Mayor of Todmorden
21st March 2019