Just occasionally the parochial preoccupations of our town councillors get overtaken by what is happening in the wider world.
Having dwelled on such matters as car parking, street lights, litter bins and the prospect of a major coffee shop chain opening a branch on Bridge Street, a voice was raised on behalf of our French connections at the January town council meeting.
Former mayor Janet Holdom spoke up with some emotion about the horrific events in Paris which had prompted millions of people to turn out on the streets of the capital and elsewhere in the country to express their support for ‘liberty, fraternity and egality’.
She reminded her fellow councillors of the long twinning association of Fakenham with Olivet and the frequent visits exchanged between the two communities. And also the annual ceremony at the Queen’s Road cemetery graveside of a French airman killed in a plane crash near RAF West Raynham during the war. He had been a member of the Free French Air Force.
Bearing these affiliations in mind at such a critical moment, Mrs Holdom felt it would be appropriate to communicate with Olivet rather than stay silent.
She proposed that the council send a message of commiserations and solidarity to show its empathy with the French nation.
It was very pleasing to note the total support for this sentiment whilst it was left to others to determine the precise wording.
It could hardly include ‘Je Suis Charlie’ but perhaps, if my fragile French is anywhere near accurate, maybe ‘Nous sommes Charlie’.
There are times when we need to make our feelings known more widely and this was surely one of them.
We’ve all done our share of caring and in the way of these things, generally just get on with it. But there often comes a point when it’s the carer who desperately needs some kind of support which they often fail to seek.
According to figures issued by Norfolk County Council there are more than 94,000 carers in Norfolk who are estimated, through their efforts, to save the government over £119m a year.
Prior to this month’s meeting of the town council, Sue McDowell from the Carers Agency Partnership[CAP], outlined to councillors the role it plays and the need for other locally-based agencies to try to find ‘hidden carers’. Many of these failed to claim the allowance to which they were entitled and struggled to pay their own household bills.
They were often isolated and suffered poor health. CAP can provide what it describes as a ‘wrap-around’ approach through a range of measures which might embrace personal, emotional and practical support.
Doing the housework, for example, or dealing with feeding and medication or simply providing a listening ear.
Grants can be obtained and via Cross Roads Care, personal time can be arranged to give carers a break from their normal daily routines. Ms McDowell stressed how important local councils were in the task of discovering more of those in their communities who needed help.
I would add how we, as citizens, can all contribute in the same way to this well-being initiative. The helpline number is 0808 808 9876.