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We need your help to choose who is worthy of Roger Hirst’s Community Safety Hero Award.
Mr Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, is holding his annual conference at Colchester Stadium on Friday, June 7. At the conference, which will be showcasing how the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has been delivering through partnerships, Mr Hirst will be unveiling the winners and runners up for this year’s Community Safety Hero Awards.

Fifty people and organisations were nominated for the awards by members of the public.
These have been shortlisted by a judging panel to a small number of finalists who have been invited to the conference.
The overall award winner, selected by the judging panel, will receive £500 to go towards their work in the community and two highly commended winners will receive £300 each.

Young Person’s Awards Finalists:

This year, there is also a new category for young people open to anybody aged up to and including 24-years-old. The winner of this award, again chosen by the judging panel, will receive £300 to go towards their work in the community.

Connie Lunn – Volunteer – Halstead Youth Club

Connie joined the Halstead Division of St John’s Ambulance at the age of six and has not stopped helping people since then. In 2013, she was given the Jack Petchy Award at Hedingham School. She choose to donate the award funding to buy a defibrillator for the school. As more cash was needed, Connie and her friends organised bake sales in the school youth club to pay for the defibrillator, which was fitted in September of the same year.

In 2014, Connie rallied her friends again and campaigned to keep the Essex Youth Bus and other services for young people open in the Halstead area. When it was announced, that they would need volunteers to step forward to help run the service, Connie put her name down and started to volunteer on the Youth Bus in Butler Road, Halstead. Connie helped keep a much needed service for young people running in Halstead. Since then she has played a significant role in the re-establishment of a regular youth club. Halstead Resource Centre is now open two evenings a week (Monday and Friday) for young people aged 13-19yrs and Connie volunteers at both sessions. In making this commitment to the youth service in Halstead, Connie has made an outstanding contribution to improving the local community over the last few years. Between 35 and 40 young people attend each session, giving Connie the opportunity to support individuals as well as to focus on key issues such as road safety. During the winter months she worked on getting the young people to have lights on their bikes so that they could be seen. Connie would regularly remind the young people that they needed to be seen by other road users and that they needed to ride their bikes in a safe manner. Spoke reflectors were given out to some young people and Connie also brought some bike lights for those who were struggling to afford their own. Connie is aware of the challenges young people in Halstead face. She is pro-active in her approach and is always prepared to support vulnerable individuals. She has been described as an excellent role model for young people and talented in many areas.


Success Popoola, Lucia Lucioni, Grace Okutubo & Mercy Okutubo – Thurrock Youth Cabinet

On March 25 this year, the Thurrock Community Safety Partnership hosted a gang related violence conference. More than 100 professionals from various public and voluntary agencies attended. Four members of the Thurrock Youth Cabinet delivered a session around gangs and knife crime to all attending. The presententation included an interactive voting session to get audience members views on the topics, a summary of the feedback and opinions of the 30 members of the Thurrock Youth Cabinet and the results of a survey with a further 50 Thurrock young people on the topics of knife crime and gangs. Success, Lucia, Grace and Mercy worked hard to plan their presentation and ensured that views from a large number of young people were included and considered on the day.

Feedback from people attending the conference included:

  • Very well done to the youth cabinet, very good points and communicated well
  • The youth cabinet were fantastic, very powerful hearing young people’s voices

Following the conference, the group have been asked to deliver their presentation to two local schools as well as representing young people on Thurrock’s Strategic Gang Related Violence group.

The awards recognise people from across the county who have made an ‘Outstanding Contribution to Community safety’.

Cast your votes now for your community hero!

Five of our finalists have also been selected to go through to a People’s Choice Award where members of the public can vote for their worthy winner.
The poll will run until 12 noon on the day of the conference, Friday, June 7. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be presented with £100.

Find out more about the finalists and vote below:

Jason Shaves – Workshop Supervisor – Rainbow Services in Harlow

For five years, Jason has single handedly supported hundreds of offenders to develop new and useful skills and connect with their community through woodworking. In the past 18 months, he has taken this to a new level through Rainbow Services by developing a new community fundraising initiative with a local hospice. He has also pioneered a new youth crime and gang prevention programme using the wood workshop as a focal point. Offenders use their wood working skills to upcycle donated furniture, making them suitable for sale in the St Clare Hospice Shop, raising hundreds of pounds in just six months for the hospice. Over the past 12 months, Jason has opened up the workshop to more than 30 young people aged between 13 and 16 who are at risk of or have committed crimes, joined gangs, been involved with drugs or associated with causing anti-social behaviour. The young people attend the workshop for seven to eight weeks and Jason helps them to learn woodwork skills and apply these positively to build items for the community such as bird and bat boxes or things for themselves or their family. He is described as going above and beyond the expectations of his role by taking each young person under his wing and mentoring them, finding out about their fears, hopes and in many cases finding out that they are in fact isolated, lonely and disenfranchised. Jason uses his connections and strong personality to build them up again and connect them to positive activities after the workshop, including apprenticeships, work placements, volunteering and leisure activities.


Shirley Hume – Founder of Springfield Youth Group – Chelmsford

As a local resident, Shirley was a concerned about the lack of youth facilities and was saddened to see so many young people hanging about the streets with nothing to do. Two years ago, she set up a committee to start a youth group and a place of safety where young people could spend time. The group now has 368 members and Shirley goes out of her way to source funding to give young people more opportunities by carefully programming activities which are fun, educational and are aimed at reducing antisocial behaviour, crime and gang and knife crime. Her work has made a real impact in the local community and has changed the lives of hundreds of young people. Shirley works closely with the local police and the Community Safety Partnership. Members of the community nominated Shirley for this award multiple times.


Kirsty Fields – Off The Streets – Southend

Off the Streets is a group of concerned residents who got together in September 2018 to help get homeless people off the streets. They opened a night shelter for 10 rough sleepers open from 8pm to 8am 365 days a year to help stop them from sleeping on the street.

Volunteers look past addictions and find out what is the root cause of an individual’s problems, what people are interested in, people’s pasts, where they want to get to and break it down into individual steps. Each guest has to sign a 28-day agreement where one to three targets are set which the guest has to achieve to help them move onto permanent accommodation. The guests Off The Streets helps have a lot of respect for the people assisting them, creating a family feel and taking pride in the community.

Despite some initial concerns from local residents, attitudes have now changed thanks to the work of Kirsty and the other volunteers. They actively engage with the community and now have over 1,000 followers on their social media accounts with offers of help and donations of items to help guests set up their own homes. Off The Streets really is turning negative experiences into positives. The shelter helps to keep people safe and provides an opportunity for guests to get their lives back on track.


Tony Ellis – Crime Prevention Assistant – Epping Forest District

Tony joined Essex Police as a cadet in 1966, spending the majority of his career providing community policing initiatives. He retired in 1999 but continued working for the force as crime reduction officer responsible for the Epping Forest District. He remained in post until 2015 when he officially retired having served the public for 49 years. Most people would have enjoyed the chance to relax but not Tony who immediately volunteered for Essex Police as an Active Citizen. Volunteering and working from Ongar Police Station, he manages the continually growing National Problem Solvers group, which has received recognition from Secured by Design and the College of Policing. The scheme continues to deliver problem solving solutions to practitioners and has developed a considerable library of best practice initiatives. Not content with running the Problem Solvers Scheme, Tony extends his volunteering services to Epping Forest District Council’s Community Safety Team where he works with officers in delivering crime prevention advice and assistance to vulnerable victims suffering from domestic abuse, dwelling burglary, hate crime and anti-social behaviour. Tony’s expertise allows the Community Safety Partnership to provide an enhanced level of service to residents of the district, supporting the core services and keeping victims safe. Tony does all of this in his own time and with great enthusiasm and professionalism. The Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership describe Tony as an unsung hero.


Emma Hughes – Principal Support Worker of Sanctus – Chelmsford

Emma is the main support worker at Sanctus, a local hub in Chelmsford, which helps people who are homeless or vulnerable. By providing good quality meals and in day centre/café, Sanctus helps those who normally hide their problems to open up with Emma providing mentoring, support and advocacy. She helps the homeless, people suffering from depression, those with long-term physical ill health, people who have just been released from prison, addicts looking for help to change and people who are lacking in self-esteem or who are lonely. Up to 80 people visit the centre each day and Emma’s door is always open, even on weekends.

Some of the testimonies of the people Emma has helped include:

  • When I became homeless I had nowhere to turn to, without Sanctus I wouldn’t have been able to survive
  • I’m so grateful to Sanctus for all the help they have given me when I was down with depression and suicidal thoughts. They would always sit down with me and talked to me in a very positive way. Anytime I asked them for help, they were willing to help me.
  • Sanctus has been a breath of fresh air. I was and still am on the streets. It has helped me a lot for food and shelter and a place where I can call home.
  • What Sanctus has done for me is to show me that people do care for people who are vulnerable and suffering with mental health and all types of ailments. I feel they give hope to everyone of all ages

Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:

“Each and everyday people across Essex go out of their way to make a positive contribution to their communities. Whether that is through supporting vulnerable people, helping to prevent crime or making our communities safer. “These awards help recognise those people by celebrating the contribution they make and supporting them in making a difference.”

The awards have been kindly supported by Essex Chambers of Commerce. Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of the Chambers, was part of the judging panel and will be co-hosting the awards with Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Jane Gardner.

Denise said:

“Reading the nominations was a humbling experience. It was amazing to see all of the fantastic work people are doing in their communities to help make Essex a safer place. It was really difficult decision to decide who went through the final as all of the nominees were of such high calibre and deserve the Community Safety Hero title.”

Thank you for taking part!