UP CLOSE: Social enterprise advisor Paul Sander-Jackson, of Baltonsborough

  Posted: 16.09.21 at 11:52 by Tim Lethaby

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Street Nub News aims to be supportive to every element of the area's community from business and shops to people and charities, clubs and sports organisations.

We will be profiling some of these businesses and organisations regularly in a feature called 'Up Close in Street'.

The Somerset Food Links Project, Wessex Community Assets and Reimagining the Levels are three community benefit organisations who have all been managed at one time or another by Baltonsborough resident Paul Sander-Jackson.

In a spare moment, we caught up with Paul to find out about all the groups be has worked with, and the importance of looking after the natural world.

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Have you always lived in the Street area and, if not, what were the key considerations about moving here?

I have lived in central Somerset for more than 30 years, including 20 on the Levels in Godney and the last five on the Levels in Baltonsborough. The landscape and wildlife attracted us to the area, and now also our family living nearby keeps us here.

Tell is a bit about your personal business background Paul, and how you came to be involved with Somerset Local Food and Wessex Community Assets?

The main work which both my wife and I have done has always involved land, growing, and community. We started a City Farm in Bristol before moving here.

During the time I spent managing the Somerset Food Links Project we set up a pioneering local food distribution business – and 20 years later it is still serving growers and customers in Somerset, and I am honoured to be a non-executive director.

I have been involved in Wessex Community Assets since it started in 2001 – and only retired as a director last year. During that time we helped put ownership by the community on the map in the South West, and perhaps most importantly supported the development of Community Land Trusts - creating small developments of community-managed affordable housing across the region.

What do you like about the Street area? How are you involved in the local community?

With our orchards dying out, and ash trees getting dieback, our beautiful environment we live in is under acute threat. Now in semi-retirement my main focus is on planting trees and supporting environmental action through membership of Reimagining the Levels – another of the trio of community benefit societies I am or have been actively involved with.

I am also a volunteer with our village Speedwatch. Anything to persuade car drivers to obey speed limits, and make our villages and towns safer.

The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on many businesses and organisations - what are your plans?

I hope that the impact of coronavirus will make people take a step back and think about how we look after the natural world. Increased use of our local food distribution business is encouraging, and long may it stick.

And the involvement of a growing number of volunteers planting trees – and people using their land for tree planting – means that there will be plenty more to do.

What businesses do you like and use in Street?

The Post Office. Very occasional haircuts at Minsky's. And, of course, the newly-reopened Strode Theatre.

The lockdown was very difficult for many people - how do you think that the area has coped?

The first phase of lockdown last year seemed more relaxed – bringing people out walking and cycling. But I think the continued restriction has made life very difficult for some – and especially children (and their home-working parents).

If there was one thing in the area you would change, what would it be?

Making safe ways to walk and cycle in and between villages and towns.

Street and the area around it is beautiful - what is your favourite place and why?

I love the avenue of poplar trees Stephen Clark nobly planted many years ago on the road past Strode. They give me pleasure every time I pass under them – and think about the generosity of someone planting trees they will not see grow to maturity in their lifetime – they do it for the future.

If you could choose an actor to play you in a movie about your life, who would it be and why?

Maybe Bill Nighy would do it?

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You can check out the Reimagining the Levels website here.

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Check out some of our previous Up Close profiles:

Brian Walton, head teacher of Brookside Academy

Nick Barrett, owner of Nick's Waste and Rubbish

Lena Dee Oliver, dance and fitness class organiser

Tom Moon, owner of Urban Yard

Mark Wheeler, owner of the Geeky Gamer

Would you like to be the subject of an UP CLOSE profile or do you know someone who we should feature? Contact [email protected]


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