Last week (Tuesday 24th May 2022) the Southend Street Pastors were represented by Avril Richards (SP Prayer Coordinator) and Malcolm Richards (Prayer Partner) at the People, Partnerships and Prevention Conference hosted by the PFCC for Essex, Roger Hirst. The conference gave delegates the chance to hear about how partners across Essex are united in their work to help communities stay safe, prevent crime and protect the vulnerable.
Roger Hirst stated that the focus is on Prevention and this is achieved by better working together with government initiatives and other Partners. One initiative is the “Safer Streets” which has been piloted in Chelmsford. This has included putting in place more CCTV, Street Lighting, Security fencing, removing vegetation that could be used to hide crimes, improving the environment to keep it safe. In the “Safer Streets” project the SOS Bus also played a part being there in the NTE keeping people safe. Street Pastors were also part of the project, and they were given funding to recruit from the local University to attract young people to becoming a Street Pastor.
Another target is to reduce violence. A programme to help make this happen is Achieve, Thrive and Flourish (ATF) which has been running in Southend and has been working with communities, and young people at risk of exclusion. This programme teaches life skills through sport, art, heritage and culture.
We listened to Professor Jonathan Shepherd explain how by using data from A&E Departments, crime prevention partnerships can make greater strides in tackling knife crime. They do this by mapping incident hotspots with their own crime data to target resources and safeguard those who need protecting. Work, which is being built on in Essex, in collaboration with acute hospitals, the ambulance service, police and the Essex Centre for Data Analytics.
I attended a Workshop of a study of Incidents relating to crimes against Women and Girls in Clacton. Data is collected by Professionals and then passed on to Police to target and help keep people safe, so you have Data driven resources to help prevent crime. This supports the value of Street Pastors working with other agencies to patrol areas where harm may be caused – Prevention. York Road in Southend was cited as an area where crimes against women and girls are committed.
We heard from Gavin McKenna, founder of “Reach Every Generation” on how his upbringing has inspired and motivated his work to ensure every child is given the opportunity to thrive and understand what healthy, normal relationships look like. Gavin said “ in a world of selfishness, be selfless”. Gavin was a truly inspiring Keynote Speaker. His profile states that his life began to turn round when he went to a Football training session at his local church – church reaching out to the Community!
The Young Essex Assembly gave a presentation on the voices of young people and their experiences of misogyny and sexual violence.
The final speaker of the day was Ryan Hart who shared his own personal story of domestic abuse and coercive control. A story so deeply moving that the room was in silence as he told of his father’s controlling behaviour and the impact on his family, and the murder of his mother and sister.
The conference showcased the innovative and successful work that is happening across the county to prevent violent crime, abuse and exploitation. Demonstrating how much can be achieved when partners share the same goal and want to work together to achieve positive change for our residents and communities.
At Southend Street Pastors, we see ourselves as the hands and feet of Jesus on the Streets. Working in partnership with our Prayer Pastors and Partners including Love Southend we believe together we can help to promote peace and harmony in Jesus name in our City.
Credit must go to: Essex Violence & Vulnerability Unit Newsletter for some of the information in my report. I have added my own reflections from the perspective of being a Street Pastor, and my engagements in the Workshops, and my own personal perception of the Conference.
Avril Richards – Prayer Coordinator Southend Street Pastors.