Community and engineering in focus

L-R Arif Shahab, President Rhona Dunn, Secretary John Pringle and David Jackson at Morpeth Rotary Club.
L-R Arif Shahab, President Rhona Dunn, Secretary John Pringle and David Jackson at Morpeth Rotary Club.


Rotary member Tony Stubbs helps to manage the activities of the Salvation Army. He invited Alison Dare, Team Leader at the project, to talk about her work in Blaydon.

The project is to support local people with social reform, tackle injustice and stand up for the marginalised. It follows a motto of ‘Heart to God, Hand to Man’. The project offers a hand up, not a hand out.

Alison worked on a holiday fun club for two years, where she joined other churches to tackle problems that were thrown up by the school holidays. They offered a free hot school meal and childcare at least one day each week. They started with a Sunday cook club, where they gave training on how to make low cost healthy meals and provided food for people to cook at home.

Parents prepared food and learned the correct use of knives and peelers. They did not always have these at home as they had so many meals from takeaways. They learned how easy it was to prepare vegetables. It was all part of being fit and healthy, along with taking part in games and sport.

They did craft activities linked to cooking, like making chef hats and hand-decorated plates. Then they would sit down together to eat, which for many was a new concept.

A Gateshead partnership provided food from Tesco and a recipe. The children would be taken to a soft play area in Crawcrook. There would be master chef sessions at the Marriott Hotel Gateshead, where the children would learn to prepare a meal.

It was all part of a principle of preparing families and young people for life, not just providing a meal on one day.

In a Community Album people recorded the change when a housing estate was demolished and friends and communities dispersed. A DVD was prepared.

They also developed a park, which had litter and dog mess, into a facility for all ages. It became a performance space and a safe place for local people.

A new Morrison’s is bringing jobs, and there will be a new community centre with youth club.

Around 25 young people completed the DVD in a week. They prepared photographs, music and a script to a deadline, which gave a great boost to their confidence. Twelve of them then went to a residential camp, which for many was the only holiday they got. They developed further skills, including how to live together. It helped them to believe in themselves and do more than they thought possible. The community is now much more optimistic.

A school is to pay Alison as a family support worker. She was originally a primary school teacher. She aims to arrange volunteers and work with other organisations. A lot of parents are keen to support it.

The vote of thanks was given by Tony Stubbs. He noted that Morpeth Rotary had given £300 towards the project and thought that some very good work had been done.

• Lt. Col. David Jackson is a Chartered Engineer in the Army Reserves who told Morpeth Rotary how he is doing his best to encourage the next generation to take up engineering.

His own career has gone from being a lad from a pit village to running his own business. He has a passion for developing apps.

Through engineering and the Army he has developed a wide range of skills, which he applies to promote STEM — science, technology, engineering and maths. The situation in the UK is so critical that even if every student with A-level maths becomes a graduate engineer, we will still be 10,000 short.

He joined the TA at university and is now a TA Engineering Leader. His first job was in sheet metal work, making chimneys out of aluminium. He is now self-employed and a supplier to Nissan. He set up Born Leader (NE) to offer leadership solutions, and Jumanji Europe, which helps companies to source high quality components.

He can provide systems to look at threats to business and how to build in resilience. This includes keeping staff safe overseas. He looks at critical situations that can disrupt communications and analyses what must be done on exploration, mitigation, solution and residual risk.

David is involved in a careers programme called Tomorrow’s Engineers, which tries to catch the imagination of pupils before they get to secondary school. It shows routes into engineering. Part of the project for those aged six and upwards is to design and build things we use in everyday life.

They look at how the North East is famous for engineering, with the first steam locomotive, friction match, incandescent light, Literary and Philosophical Society, steam turbine engine, windscreen wipers and Lucozade.

The project covers the world land speed record with Campbell and Bluebird, moving on to Richard Noble, the current record holder, and jet thrust, a supersonic car with a 1,050mph design that will allow it to travel faster than sound.

It is a programme for Key Stage 1, and 94 schools, mainly in Newcastle, but also around Ashington, are taking part. David takes part as a volunteer working with the Institute of Mechanical Engineering.

The vote of thanks was given by Arif Shahab, who is heavily involved in engineering. It can be applied to so much human activity, including work abroad, especially in Asia and China. In the United States engineering is one of the second best paid jobs there is. That should be the same in the UK.