Stephen Taylor: Share city with grassroots supporters

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LAST year I was bitterly disappointed that our current government didn’t sign up with the rest of Europe to join up plans to combat human trafficking across our borders.

 Human trafficking is a crime which operates under the radar of many countries by coercing mainly women and children from poor families and then exploiting them in many degrading ways.

 When the UK was out of step with the rest of Europe, a crude deportation of the perpetrator of a crime was the simple solution. Often then, the person fell back into the hands of the gang back in their own country and then the individual was often ‘recycled’ elsewhere.

 The gangs behind the crimes were in usually in someone else’s country and therefore ‘not our problem’. Now the government has had a change of heart and joined the rest of Europe in an attempt to bring these gangs to justice and prevent the wide scale abuse of women and children.

 This new cross-border collaboration won’t make the problem disappear completely, but it should mean less misery and exploitation for really vulnerable people. Credit to groups like Anti-Slavery International and ECPAT UK who continued to lobby the government and presented a petition with Oxana, who herself has survived being trafficked into the UK from the Ukraine.

I’VE commented here in the past about sporting events that bring people into the city at a grassroots level, and were it not for countless volunteers who coach, transport and administer, then these youngsters wouldn’t have the fun of competing, let alone flourish in their sport.

 At the weekend Ashbrooke played host to the Durham County Cup for the Junior Rugby County 7s, and the final was won by Mowden Park who beat Billingham 15:5.

 The event brought hundreds of people to Sunderland. Similar events at Silksworth and across the city have many families journeying to our city.

 Rightly, we pull out all the stops for the big events like the air show, concerts and the like, but what about the thousands every week who stand on the varies touchlines, court sides, pool sides and then wonder what treat might follow their afternoon’s endeavours?

 Might we be able to extend the visitor offer to these people with information about our seafront, theatre, glass centre etc?

AS diligent observers know, my English isn’t always the Queen’s. However when it comes to High Street notices advertising services one hopes that more care might be taken.

 I was reasonably good at school with understanding the lesson on the use of apostrophes, and reading ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’ reinforced those lessons. So when large, hand-written notices advertise ‘For The Best Foreign Currency Deal’s See Inside’ with Deal’s instead of Deals, I bite my tongue.

THE most exciting/scary thing I’ve done this week is sign up for a Nissan Leaf.

 I know it will be perfect for driving round the North East with its multiple charging points.

 I’m fairly sure it will be okay when I move to Kent over the summer and use the house as a hub for getting to different meetings.  

 But getting it from here to Kent with a 100-mile battery range I’m not too sure about.  

 Still there is time to work that out, and all suggestions welcome!