Representing ROC at a Lunch Event: A Day of Unity and Collaboration

Frank and Debra, ambassadors of ROC, recently had the honor of representing our organization at a lunch event in Darlington on November 16th. Debra, in particular, was invited to share the ROC vision with over 60 agencies present. The event brought together a diverse group, including MP Peter Gibson, Darlington Police and Council, local businesses, and numerous third-sector organizations.

Vicky Thompson, Chair of One Voice Darlington unity network, set the stage by introducing the event. As we look back on this day, we reflect on the strengths and challenges of our beloved Darlington. Here are some highlights from Vicky’s insightful speech:


Celebrating Darlington’s Strengths: A Beacon of Success

1. *Great Place to Live:* Darlington proudly holds the 7th position in the ranking of the best places to live in the UK.

2. *High Employment Rates:* A remarkable 72% of the population is engaged in full-time work, showcasing a town with thriving employment opportunities.

3. *Educational Excellence:* Darlington boasts well-performing schools and colleges, with recent congratulations to Corporation Road Primary School for their remarkable improvement.

4. *Investment and Development:* The town is experiencing a surge of investment, including the Northern Economic Campus, plans for Northgate and Railway Heritage Quarter improvements, and a substantial £105 million investment to extend the train station.

5. *Community Collaboration:* The police and NHS are actively working with the local community to address crime levels and provide alternative life help, such as social prescribers and peer mentors.

6. *Green Spaces and Awards:* Darlington takes pride in its beautiful green spaces, with recognition for the exceptional work carried out by the Darlington Street Scenes team, recently awarded for their efforts.


Acknowledging Challenges: Uniting for a Better Tomorrow

Despite these achievements, Vicky highlighted the gaps in our community that demand attention:

1. *Deprivation and Poverty:* Some areas in Darlington rank among the top 10% of the most deprived areas in the UK, with residents facing challenges such as poverty, mental health issues, and social isolation.

2. *Cost of Living Crises:* The growing cost of living crisis has led to an increase in food bank usage, impacting families who never thought they would need such support.

3. *Crime Rates and Healthcare Strain:* Darlington faces a higher crime rate than Durham, and our mental health services, NHS, and educational system are under strain.

4. *Life Expectancy:* The life expectancy in Darlington is lower than the national average, underscoring the need for collective action.


One Voice Darlington: Better Together for a Stronger Future

While celebrating our successes, it’s crucial to acknowledge the existing challenges. One Voice Darlington emphasizes that by working together—councils, third-sector organizations, and churches—we can bridge these gaps and create a stronger, more resilient community.

As we look toward 2024, the hope is to host a ROC Conversation, fostering dialogue and collaboration to address these challenges head-on. There’s more work to be done, but together, we can build a brighter future for all in Darlington. One voice, one community, united for a better tomorrow.