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16 August 2002

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Regional Economic Strategy Review:- Skills and Employment Consultation
 
The Northwest Development Agency (NWDA) today held the first of six consultation events to update the Regional Economic Strategy. The event focused on Skills and Employment and featured key note speakers Chris Rogan, Head of Education Liaison and Virtual University Partnerships, BAE Systems and Jim Michie, Chairman of Greater Merseyside Learning and Skills Council.

The event took place at Lancaster University and forms part of a series of consultation events based on the six priority areas of the revised strategy. The purpose of the review is to update the Strategy taking into account the experiences of the last three years to ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of the region.

Bryan Gray, Chairman of the NWDA said:-

"The consultation events are key to ensuring the Regional Economic Strategy continues to meet the changing needs of the region and that the public, private, community and voluntary sectors of England's Northwest all have the opportunity to contribute to this important process."

Each event will comprise of an overview of the proposed strategy, guest speakers outlining the key regional issues to be addressed and workshop sessions to gain delegates' responses to the proposed objectives and key activities.

Swing Shift Big Band

Swing Shift Big Band are soon to commence their Autumn and Winter Season with an afternoon of Big Band music and Jazz at The Comrades club Southport Road, Ormskirk.
 
The date is Sunday 8th September and the performance is from 1pm – 4p0m (doors open 12.30).  Admission is just £3.00.
 
The Band have a lot of new music on offer plus many established favorites.
 
Directing proceedings will be Tenor Sax man, Phil Shotton.  Also on hand will be Vocalist Frank Lawson with familiar songs in the Sinatra style.
 
A licensed bar will be available during the performance and a small jazz combo will be playing in the interval.
 
So there you are, almost 3 hours of continuous music.  Looks like being a great afternoon.

A New month a new you!

September the 1st, a new month, a new season, so why not a new lifestyle! Travelwise, "It’s Bike Time!" Scheme, is encouraging first time riders and experienced cyclists, young and old alike, to embark on a new regime; keep fit and have fun!
 
The new month is a time to start working on a new healthier you, and what batter way than a leisurely bike ride on a pleasant Sunday afternoon!  The rides not only give all participants the chance to get fit and explore various regional areas, but they also allow the opportunity to socialize with other cyclists. By encouraging people to cycle and use their cars less also means cutting down on pollution.
 
On September 1st the Travelwise ride will take place along the scenic Liverpool – Manchester Canal route.  The ride starts off at a leisurely pace from the Pier Head at 2pm.
 
The travelwise rides are organized by Merseyside Cycling Campaign, in conjunction with Healthstart, to promote cycling throughout Merseyside.  They demonstrate the benefits of cycling over less environmentally friendly forms of transport.
 
The Travelwise routes are specially designed for cyclist of all standards and all abilities.  By participating in the rides, cyclists are able to build up their confidence and skills, which will encourage them to use their bikes as a regular mode of transport.  The rides start at 2pm and last between 2-3 hours at an easy pace.
 
On each route there is a designated refreshment break.  It is recommended that all riders wear a helmet and an adult must accompany under 14’s  (we suggest that all children under seven years of age use a child seat or trailer).  Families, friends and individuals are all welcome on the rides.
 
Several members of the Merseyside Fire Service will be attending the ride to help launch their new environmentally friendly travel plan which begins with a Bike to Work day on 29th of August.  Colette Dunne of the Merseyside Fire service says; “Travelwise has helped us to organize our Bike to Work Day and encouraged us to start our new healthy regime with an enjoyable practice run on the ride.”
Echoes of Eternity:- Ultimate Realities
How do we attain meaning in our lives? What gives us the impulse to acknowledge something or someone higher than ourselves?  Why have religion?  Are they all the same anyway?

More 'eternal' questions - plenty of answers offered from different  perspectives. But does it matter if we just give up and decide it's not
worth thinking about? Or is that simply  postponing an unavoidable dilemma?

We might disagree with the opinions of others, but would we fight for their  right to express those opinions? The majority of us don't live in a country where one religion is actively dominant. Britain obviously has a tradition
of Christianity and continuing links between church and state, but the two world wars and the last sixty years have brought a rejection of the past, opting instead for liberty and openness to new influences. Does tolerance
mean being tolerant of those who are intolerant? If so, how? It could be argued that there is nothing reliable outside our own
experience and how we exist as people. The questions that this philosophy, existentialism, ultimately asks is:- "why should I not commit suicide?" Is the answer that we each make personal meaning for our lives, or does it go a
little deeper than that?

'Interestingly, it wasn't just Christian commentators who predicted that the
flight from God and belief in absolute truth would leave a vacuum. The existentialists came to the same conclusion. No God, no truth, no right, no wrong. Their solution:- choose some creed. Any creed. And pursue it wholeheartedly. What matters is not the content of the creed, what matters is that despite the knowledge that no creed is meaningful you, as an individual, have escaped the meaninglessness of human existence by
energetically "going for it."

Mark Greene, former advertising executive, now a Christian academic. (Ref:-
http://www.licc.org.uk/articles/article.php/id/64)

So, let's dip our toes into the water of looking at different religions, but not long enough to get chilly feet. I think they're worth taking in one column at a time - hope you agree! Hinduism, for example, seems the only major faith that has many 'gods' and several supreme beings, according to each philosophy within it. This is where things get complicated, so please forgive me for any simplistic understandings. Brahman is the closest thing to a 'supreme being', who imagines and is the universe that we live in. From the description in its holy writings, it appears that the world was not created but constantly develops with a hierarchy of god-like beings. So all the 'gods' that exist come from the one 'supreme being'.  However, the branch of Hinduism that believes in one creator 'god' take a different view from their own holy book. They say that one 'supreme being'
created the universe. Brahman is simply a name, along with Vishnu or Shiva,
for the same 'god'. Only Krishna appears to be a higher deity than the 'god' identified by different names. There is still a distinction between Brahman as being of the universe and other gods as being only part of the universe. The world is being recreated from the accumulation of karma over previous generations in order to achieve future perfection. Samkhya and Yoga philosophies believe that the matter around us is real, not a dream. Apart from that, they vary mostly in the detail of good and bad forces battling for supremacy. Tantrism and Hatha Yoga say that the universe was formed by the seperation of two deities:- Shiva, who formed the unseen spiritual element and Shakti, who formed the material element.

(Ref: http://www.comparativereligion.com)

There seems to be a divide between those who would say that religion is concerned with private happiness and others who would claim, like existentialists, that a creed only counts when it makes a difference openly. But in a film like "Lord of the Rings", how the characters respond to events is determined by what they believe. The influence of evil is real, and the
characters have a choice whether to give in or stand up for their personal beliefs. But is this true in the real world, and what about compromise and tolerance? Are there beliefs more important than that?

As always, I would be very interested to hear what you think about these ideas. Please feel free to respond via e-mail to the website.

Social Column by Steve Williams.

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