COMMENT: Strong sense of community at heart of new city initiative
As a port and historic home of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth is a cultural melting pot where a diverse population lives cheek by jowl on our densely-populated island.
It's always been a neighbourly place where people have a reputation for looking out for each other. But as we go about our busy lives and become wrapped up in our own jobs and families, we can still sometimes fail to recognise that there are people amongst us in need of help. So we welcome the creation of a new network called Portsmouth City of Sanctuary, in which more than 80 organisations are teaming up to tackle vulnerability and isolation across the city. It's non-political and non-religious and is based on shared principles of inclusiveness, openness and participation. It will join up projects and services, meaning people are better able to access the right support. This co-ordinated approach also prevents replication, meaning resources are maximised. From veterans struggling to cope with civvy street to refugees, asylum-seekers, the homeless and those who feel cut off from the mainstream, the City of Sanctuary will be there to meet their specific needs. The city will join an existing network of City of Sanctuary groups across the UK and Ireland, including Southampton and Chichester. The organisations will work within five main areas; health, education, advocacy, sports and arts and theatre. What shines through in this excellent initiative is the strong sense of community that lies at its heart. The determination that people, whoever they are and wherever they come from, will not be allowed to fall through the cracks in society. That's a noble aim and one we should all support.