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“Inspirational” was amongst the many positive comments from the large audience that attended the Fair Frome celebration evening at Frome Assembly Rooms on Thursday 12th November.
The event was held to present the work of the Frome charity over the past year and hear about future plans.
The Mayor, Kate Bielby, opened the evening and outlined the close cooperation that exists between the Town Council and Fair Frome, and recognised the huge role that volunteers play in making Frome a better place to live.
She said she is heartened that as austerity continues to bite, it’s good to know that there is an organisation in our town that will stand up and say that’s not right or fair – providing a voice for those most affected who on a local and national level, are often voiceless. She also made it clear that she feels it’s very clear that the Town Council support of Fair Frome is not just desirable but an essential investment in the future of our town.
Bob Ashford, Chair of Fair Frome, described both the comparative wealth and poverty that currently exists in Frome and the ever growing gap between them. In response, Fair Frome, together with local support agencies and the community, is trying to do what it can to support those in acute need.
Many of these people are in employment but on low wages, zero hours contracts and high rent accommodation. Over the past year Fair Frome has supported almost 1,000 people in the town through the Food Bank and Community Dining events and will look to reach even more people in need over the next year.
Bob presented plans for a furniture project, which when funded would collect furniture donations and give them away to people referred by agencies in the town. Evidence of the need for such a scheme comes from Frome agencies and local Social Housing Providers who say that even if people are fortunate enough to obtain a tenancy they often don’t have the means to furnish them.
Fair Frome is a campaigning charity too and Bob outlined the challenges Fair Frome has made to legislation and practices that increase inequality for Frome residents. To this end Bob introduced Emily Kenway from the National Living Wage Foundation who had come from London especially for the event.
In a passionate presentation Emily pointed out the differences between the ‘Living Wage’ announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget and that proposed by the Living Wage Foundation which is voluntary, higher, and includes young people aged 18-24.
In Frome and Mendip 32.3% of wages are currently below the Living Wage and Emily stressed the benefits of paying a Living Wage to employers, workers and all of us as taxpayers and her hope that in addition to Barclays and the Nationwide Bank, Frome Town Council and Fair Frome that other employers would sign up to LWF Living Wage.
Fair Frome are considering what contribution they might make to the campaign and ask anyone interested to contact them.
Wendy Miller-Williams, the Fair Frome coordinator said, “This was a really successful evening and demonstrates the generosity and vibrancy of people and organisations in Frome.
“I would especially wish to thank Frome Town Council, all the volunteers, sponsors and food bank donors who support us week in and week out and ‘Across the Rockies’ and Al O’Kane and friends who provided the wonderful music for the evening.
“Fair Frome couldn’t exist without this level of support and if anyone wishes to donate or join us in our work please contact me on 07714587129 or email me at email@example.com ”