By Pat Scott
The Ash & Ash Vale Community Street Team are a friendly group of volunteers from the local community that go out and talk to young people and anyone else they meet on their patrols. Their objective is to break down barriers between different age groups in the Parish.
Traditionally, public safety has been the domain of law enforcement. When crime and Anti-social Behaviour occurs, we tend to look to law enforcement for reduction strategies. However, increasingly over the past few years, research has shown that you can’t have sustained, long term reductions in violence and crime without engaging residents in the public safety process. That’s to say that you can’t have “public safety” without the “public”.
Our Teams of Volunteers go on pre-arranged Outings in pairs around Ash and Ash Vale and act as a service to the community, bridging the gap between the generations and offering mainly young people the chance to chat and simply talk to someone who will listen.
Since starting over 12 years ago, the Street Team have 18 volunteers of various ages. The Team originally received funding from Surrey County Council, allowing them to buy uniforms and back packs which carry hot drinks in the winter and cold drinks in the summer. Members of the team live in the local area, and are well known within the Community with their logo marked hi-viz jackets, fleeces and backpacks.
Pat Scott, who Chairs the group, said:
“We try to go to places where young people gather. We want to let them know that not all people over the age of 40 are about to collect their pension, and similarly let older people know that not everyone under the age of 25 is ‘up to no good’ even in small groups.”
Often, we just listen to people who feel they cannot talk to their parents or teachers for whatever reason, Pat said. “Young people can get very pressurised at school and worry about exams etc., and it can really help to just have an outsider to talk to.” or signpost local events of interest.
Helping the elderly is also important. “On one occasion, a Team met an older lady who was frightened about crossing the park in the dark because she had seen some youths there,” The Team offered their help. “We went with her, and the youths actually turned around and said “good night” to us. It made the lady feel that they are not all bad after all.”
Can you spare an hour or two a month? Or perhaps you are looking for something different to do, meeting new people and making new friends whilst also taking a little exercise, then why not join us?
If you would like to go out on a ‘taster session’ to see if this could be something you would enjoy please contact Pat (Scott) on firstname.lastname@example.org.