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High Sheriff takes a tour of Wellington

The High Sheriff of Shropshire made a whistle-stop tour of Wellington and was impressed by the diverse businesses and positivity that reigned – even in the shadow of Covid-19.

Mrs Dean Harris JP, who has been in the role since April, was guided around a number of organisations in the traditional market town by Sally Themans from Love Wellington, along with the local Mayor Anthony Lowe and Mayoress Julie Carter-Lowe.

“What has particularly been highlighted is the number of people in the voluntary and charity sector in Wellington who are working so hard, and how much we rely on them; they don’t receive a great deal of funding but the service they give is invaluable,” said Dean.

The tour began at Wellington Orbit, a community run cinema, café and art space, followed by The Station and a walk around the indoor market, before reaching Strickland House, the home of Telford After Care Team (TACT).

TACT assists people in recovery from the misuse of drugs or alcohol and those facing mental health issues. Goals are achieved by improving the health and wellbeing of TACT’s service users - helping people to lead productive and fulfilling lives and become valued members of the community. It provides training opportunities and a chance to find future employment.

Richard Leith, operations manager at TACT, said: “Six months ago this building was packed with people, such a vibrant place. But with the pandemic, we went from that – and the support people were receiving – to nothing overnight. It was unbelievable.”

Mark Lynch, drop-in and volunteer co-ordinator, said: “Most days we would have 70 or 80 people come through the doors. In fact we topped 100 a couple of times, maybe 115.”

TACT looks to restart its services in the weeks ahead, with groups being offered in person and online.

“There is a benefit to Zoom or Teams meetings,” said Richard. “It’s an opportunity for the groups to restart and not be a place to fear. You can participate purely by audio if that is more comfortable. And it’s not all group-based. It is important that service users can talk to a trained counsellor on a one-to-one basis.

“It’s not been easy during lockdown, but we are slowly reintroducing the service. There is a lot that can be done individually and then, if the person wants to progress to groups, that can be offered later.”

Dean’s time in the role of High Sheriff of Shropshire has been unlike anything her predecessors contended with.

“My shrieval year really has required me to be adaptable and proactive, embracing virtual working at first and now blending a mix of face-to-face meetings and video calls for maximum impact and effectiveness.

“With restrictions easing, I have pledged to visit 16 towns within Shropshire to thank people for their contribution during lockdown and beyond, and learn more about the organisations within those communities. The visit to Wellington is part of that series of visits, and it’s been an honour to meet so many fantastic individuals and get to know more about the wonderful community here.”

On the tour, Dean also visited Chartered Independent, Nathan Rous PR, Q Financial, Alan Olver of Maninplace and The Walnut restaurant.

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