YEARS ago, while working as a criminal defence solicitor at Bury Magistrates Court, I met a remarkable woman called Linda.

With others, Linda ran The Red Door, which provided support to some of the most vulnerable in our community, struggling with addiction or mental health challenges, problems not easily dealt with by existing front-line services.

Sadly Bury Council cut funding and this invaluable provision came to an end. But thankfully it now continues at St Joseph’s Church with the support of Caritas.

But the Red Door and Linda achieved positive outcomes for people every day with minimal financial investment from the state and as we come out of the pandemic I believe a real opportunity has emerged for Bury Council and CCG to re-evaluate their relationships with the voluntary and charitable sector in Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington to take advantage of the expertise, real-world experience and kindness of Bury North residents who want to play their part in changing lives for the better.

This week I had the honour of playing rounders with the team at Jigsaw. Jigsaw is a wonderful local charity which aims to provide fun, freedom and independence for disabled people

Ellen, Natalie and everyone involved work tirelessly to positively impact lives and we must take every opportunity as politicians to source the funding they need to provide the widest range of support services.

Rebecca Jackson has opened the Big Fandango in Bury to use arts and crafts to support mental well-being. Her own experience of suicide bereavement and determination to help those struggling to access support from the state in times of real crisis is necessary. I hope Bury MBC will support this phenomenal project and see the benefit of partnership working to ensure people have the care and support they need.

Community organisations throughout Bury have formed to improve areas for the better. As a North Manor councillor for nearly a decade I saw first-hand how those like Alistair Waddell, Christine Taylor, Faith Greenhalgh, Viv Sayers and others positively impacted their local communities. But those involved in all these groups not only need the support of the council and CCG but our help also. The pandemic has reiterated the importance of community and the part every one of us plays to keep each other safe and help those who perhaps are less fortunate than ourselves.