Thurrock: ‘The police are always welcome at The Community House’
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Trustee and treasurer of The Community House in Grays, Wendy Townsend, is looking forward to renewing links with police in the town now coronavirus restrictions are lifting.
And the feeling is mutual.
Wendy says: “Before the pandemic we had a fantastic relationship with our local police officers. They used to come up to our youth groups, make sure we were OK.”
Seabrooke Rise Community Association was born in a couple of containers in 2005. Later, Thurrock Council provided some demountable buildings and then a bungalow. Finally, the association moved into its current, purpose-built premises, where it runs – pandemic notwithstanding – activities for more than 50 young people between four and 18.
Wendy says: “Over the last 16 years, we’ve always had a good relationship. We used to have an open surgery where anyone could come along and talk to the police. They had a really good relationship with everyone on the estate and we’ve always had a good relationship with them. They are always welcome at The Community House.
“I think it’s very important for the children to have a police presence. If you can see a police officer and you have something that’s worrying you, I think you should be able to talk to a police officer about it or ask for help, anything, because that’s what they are there for.
“We’ve got lots of things going on over the school holidays and now that COVID restrictions are being lifted I hope the local officers will come down and join us again.
“They were playing football with the kids the other week. The kids loved it.”
Unfortunately, COVID restrictions meant the town centre team had to limit a lot of its engagement work but now, says Sgt Jamie Dawson, officers can start attending meetings at The Community House again because ‘it’s nice to have a different approach’.
“When we speak to young people in the street, it can seem a little authoritarian whereas, if we can go along to The Community House, we are seen as more approachable and friendly,” he says.
“During Euro 2020, we were called to reports of young people playing football so PC Mike George and I went along, engaged with them and played football with them for about half an hour, which went down quite well. Because of that, we’ve built up quite a decent relationship with them again and now, when we walk through the park, they come and say hello to us.
“That’s just from one engagement. It is impactive.
“It’s that kind of policing which helps us. If we can show that we are approachable, hopefully, young people will think twice about going down the anti-social route or listen to us when we have to tell them that, this time when we are talking to them, it’s about a negative matter.
“It’s nice to show them we are human but that we do have to ‘put our hats on’ sometimes, which is when we can come from the point of ‘we know each other’.”
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