Encouraging local people, charities and organisations to work together to improve their local community was the focus of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens’ most recent community day.
On Monday (10 February), the PCC met with Mark Woodcock from Taunton Open Door, an organisation providing essential support to Taunton’s homeless community. The day centre supports nearly 30 individuals per day providing clothing, laundry, breakfast and lunch. The huge team of volunteers ensure a safe place for rough sleepers so they can set goals, develop life skills, sustain accommodation and access employment.
Local authorities work within the centre to support individuals with universal credit, accommodation support and additional advice.
Following the visit, PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “It’s fantastic to see the work that local organisations like Taunton Open Door are doing to support the most vulnerable people in our communities. I appreciate hearing about these issues that vulnerable communities face so that I can understand these issues and see what is required to make our communities safer and stronger.”
The PCC then joined local PCSO’s, Brett Freeman and Amy Borthwick, to host a joint beat surgery and public drop-in session at Taunton Library. During the session, attendees raised concerns about the policing budget, anti-social behaviour and drug paraphernalia in public spaces. Local people were advised to report concerns to the constabulary, using their online contact form or by calling 101.
Following this, the PCC travelled to the Burnham-on-Sea ‘happy to chat’ bench. The simple concept involves placing a sign on a bench in a public space to encourage those using the bench to chat with one another. The initiative was originally started on World Elder Abuse Day in June last year and since then the benches have made headlines across the globe.
Sergeant Ashley Jones, who started the initiative, joined the PCC and Cllr Peter Clayton at the chat bench to speak to local people in Burnham.
Speaking about the chat benches, PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “It is a fantastic new initiative that I hope encourages those of all ages to start many more conversations in the future.”
Finally, the PCC joined Andrea Greer, Deputy Principal for Prison Education at Weston College, to discuss the college’s role in providing education in prisons across the South West. With their education plans, the team aim to deliver an outstanding and inclusive learning experience to support successful rehabilitation, resettlement and employment of offenders on their release.
Find out more about the organisations the PCC visited here:
Taunton Open Door
Your local policing team
Happy to Chat Benches