On 5th October my day in Leicester proved to be more eventful than I had expected. I started with breakfast at Rolls & Rotis on Wood Hill. An omelette roti set me up for the day, and I was able to chat to the owner about local issues.
Then I was off to the Belgrave Community Centre for one of their regular Community Coffee Mornings. The place was packed, which was good to see. As well as serving coffee and biccies to all comers, the event hosts a variety of local organisations which offer services to the more vulnerable in society – victims of domestic abuse, poverty or mental health among other issues. It was good to see a steady stream of people coming in either to have some coffee or to chat to the organisations which were there.
I had a bit of time spare before my next visit, so I took the opportunity to wander up Belgrave Road and drop in on some of the shopkeepers to discuss anti-social behavior, shoplifting and other issues in the area. Everyone seemed pleased with the police response when they were called, but agreed that some of the underlying issues were going to take sustained action to deal with.
My next stop was the Synagogue and Jewish Heritage Centre in Highfield Street. I was met by Leo and Samuel who kindly showed me round the building and explained the community work that they did. We then discussed the situation regarding anti-semitism. This was before the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza that followed shortly afterwards – and following which I contacted the Centre to make sure that everything was OK with them.
It was then back to Belgrave to view the Community Garden, round the back of the library on the edge of Cossington Park. The garden is run by local volunteers in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust. It aims to increase understanding of nature and wildlife as well as to produce flowers and produce. The volunteers certainly seem enthusiastic and the garden was looking neat and tidy, despite the onset of autumn.
My final stop of the day was in Beaumont Leys where I met with Cllr Hemant Bhatia and Cllr Hazel Orton as well as the local police beat officers. Together we walked around the patch to view the issues affecting local residents. Some of these did not concern the police but were the responsibility of the city council. Nevertheless we discussed worries about burglary, vandalism and assorted instances of anti-social behavior. It was good to hear that the beat officers were aware of all the issues and were taking action to deal with them.