Uttlesford: Drinks with community links – tell us your concerns
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A horsebox café is a little-known ‘tool’ used across Uttlesford to encourage people to report issues which concern them to agencies which can help to solve them.
The Council for Voluntary Services Uttlesford (CVSU) has been running its Drinks With Community Links horsebox café for a couple of years but visits were cut back at the start of the pandemic last year.
Last week, volunteers attended various pop-up events across Uttlesford during the first national Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week and more are planned over the summer. Details will be posted on the @EPUttlesford Facebook page.
Uttlesford Community Policing Team, together with Uttlesford District Council staff, are on hand at the events to answer questions about a variety of issues, including how to report anti-social behaviour.
PC Glenn Braden appreciates the support the CVSU volunteers provide at events in rural locations, small villages and hamlets.
“They provide free drinks and we engage with the local communities. We go out with the benefits and maintenance teams and housing officers from Uttlesford District Council.
“We offer crime prevention advice and, if someone needs something fixing, that will be done or, if we identify someone who has been struggling with isolation, they can make the necessary referrals.
“It lets our rural communities know we are still here for them because they can feel isolated. We’ve also been visiting farms lately to give them advice about hare coursing and local byways issues, and to talk to them about Farm Watch and other support available to them while they can talk to us about any issues they are experiencing.”
Hannah Whiteley, a volunteer with CVSU, says: “We kept up a limited programme of visits over the past 18 months because it gave people who were feeling isolated during the pandemic a chance to come along and have a socially-distanced chat.
“Now, we are here for people who are finding it difficult to get back out as coronavirus restrictions are lifting.
“Our café provides a no-stress environment, which encourages people to relax and chat.
“This works very well as we attend many community events with Essex Police, Uttlesford District Council and other members of Uttlesford Community Safety Partnership where residents can sit down and talk about any issues or concerns they may have.”
Police community support officer Mike O’Donnell-Smith adds: “The horsebox café attracts people and then we can speak to them as well. They tend to relax over a tea or a coffee and then feel they can tell us things which are bothering them locally, whether it’s speeding, anti-social behaviour or if they think someone needs a bit of help. If they haven’t seen someone for a couple of days, we’ll go round and make a welfare check.
“We go with them to some unusually quiet places and are working with Uttlesford District Council to engage with our farming community, especially now they are in their busy season, to let them know we are still around and that we are listening.
“These visits will give farmers a way to report to us things that are affecting them. Hare coursing and theft of equipment, materials and plant are big issues for them but sometimes they don’t report things but we need them to be reported so we can find out what’s going on and deal with it.
“Uttlesford’s 250 square miles so we need to be focused and targeted in the areas where there are problems. If we don’t know about it, we can’t help.”
Report anti-social behaviour
You can report incidents of anti-social behaviour on our website via Live Chat – open from 7am-11pm every day – or by completing an online report. You can also ring 101.
If you’ve been a victim of anti-social behaviour, or any crime, and are feeling mentally impacted by it, do contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111.
Find out more about our Watch schemes in Essex and join up!
Most of our Watch schemes in Essex – Allotment Watch, Business Watch, Caravan Watch, Dog Watch, Farm & Rural Watch, Heritage Watch and Marine Watch – encourage members to report suspicious activity and improve their crime prevention & security knowledge.
Plane Watch is run locally by our policing team at Stansted Airport and is for aviation enthusiasts who help us to protect the airport from criminals and threats against aviation.
Watch schemes run by other organisations include Neighbourhood Watch, Pubwatch and Community Speed Watch.