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We have had some amazing nominations for our fourth annual community safety awards. Below are the six finalists and we wanted your opinion on who, out of these six, should get our People’s Choice Awards. You have until midday on Thursday 15th to have your say. We will still be recognising an overall winner and two highly commended, so this is an extra chance to recognise one of the nominees below that you would like to see recognised. Simply select your favourite from the choice below.

Joyce Obaseki – Grant a smile

Five years ago a bedraggled boy walked into Joyce’s classroom crying because he had been bullied again for wearing a dirty uniform to school. His mum had cancer and was struggling daily to cope. As a former teacher Joyce saw first-hand how the lives of children and their families were affected when a parent was ill. Their ‘normal’ childhood experiences of school, play, and extra-curricular activities drastically changed because they had to support their parents at home.

This was Joyce’s inspiration behind launching Grant a Smile – a not for profit organisation that offers practical interventions to support children and helps prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. For the families the charity clean, declutter, help with ironing, gardening and taking the kids out, and for the children, they organise life/social skills workshops to educate, promote positive mind-sets and build confidence. The charity helps to transform the lives of children who otherwise have no one to turn to and by doing this reduces the rate of low aspiration in the children, reduces crime on our streets and help boost both the self-esteem of the children and their parents.

Peter Salmon – Neighbourhood Watch

Described as a kind, polite man, with a passion for helping the community in which he lives, Peter has made a huge impact in his local community of Brentwood. As the district coordinator for the Neighbourhood Watch programme Peter has been involved in a wide range of projects across the district, bringing together different partners, liaising with the police and making a tangible impact on crime in his community. Peter is a regular at strategic level programme boards where his relationships and practical knowledge of what will work on the ground has added impact to the discussions. He is also a trusted and practical partner who is highly valued by the Police, the Community Safety Partnership and the Borough Council.

Peter spends a considerable amount of his time working on the ground in the community handing out leaflets, raising awareness and encouraging other members of the community to get involved. Out of the myriad of projects Peter has contributed to the prevention of burglary has probably been one of the most successful. Peter has worked with vulnerable or elderly groups, fitted door chains, promoted prevention advice and supported various Senior Safety Days. Burglaries in Brentwood are now at their lowest level in 20 years in part down to the successful prevention work undertaken by Peter and the wider team.

The Firebreak Team – Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

The Firebreak Team create and implement bespoke targeted Firebreak intervention programmes where vulnerable members of society participate in fire and rescue training. From January ’17 – January ‘18, the team have delivered a record 70 Firebreak programmes throughout Essex with plans for another 20 courses by the end of March. During these 12 months, the Firebreak team supported 642 people to complete the full week programme and receive their AQA qualifications.

Within every Firebreak programme participants learn about the consequences of actions and how people can protect themselves from harm – this is in regards to fire and road safety. Additional aims and objectives are agreed with partner agencies but often focus on tackling drugs & alcohol use, offending behaviour, promoting healthy relationships, and protecting against gang recruitment.

Participants describe the programme as ‘hard hitting’ and describe the huge benefits in terms of learning about team building and decision making.

Steve Wood – Appropriate Adults Service, Colchester and Chelmsford SOS bus and Essex CRC Women’s Project

As the Criminal Justice and Welfare Manager for Open Road, Steve manages the Chelmsford and Colchester SOS buses, the Essex Appropriate Adults Service and the Community Rehabilitation Company’s Women’s Project. All four of these projects deliver valuable support to some of the most vulnerable in our society, 365 days and year at unsociable and irregular hours. By their very nature these services can be challenging and unpredicted yet Steve has established and manages a group of over 200 volunteers who together successfully provide these services across Essex.

Through the Essex Appropriate Adults Service, Steve has helped provide support to 1490 vulnerable adults and young people in custody suites across Essex. The SOS buses have supported a further 1080 people and avoided over 503 A&E admissions, massively reducing the human cost of the incidents but also helping both the health system and criminal justice system in Essex to focus their resources on other areas.

Through the Essex CRC Women’s Project Steve and his team have managed to support 438 women offenders, looking at new and innovative ways to engage with them. He secured funding from the Big Lottery which enables the women to take part in outward bound experiences as well as gaining a qualification.

Jo Roberts – Wilderness Foundation

Under Jo’s leadership the Wilderness Foundation has helped thousands of people turn their lives around through participation in trail experiences, one-on-one wilderness therapy, and other outdoor adventures. Her work with young people has enabled them to develop a greater awareness of their own behaviour and its impact upon others. Values such as inclusion, respect and honesty are central to this. Jo has been instrumental in setting up the TurnAround and Out There programmes, which allow participants to get outdoors where they experience a whole new side of life. Through camping, cooking outdoors, and exploring wild spaces, they discover inner resources they didn’t know they had and turn their lives around.

Jo works with vulnerable young people who face multiple barriers to success, such as drug and alcohol abuse, school failure, and youth offending orders. She helps to bring about significant positive change in their behaviour, giving them the tools to develop their confidence and self-respect, to forge strong relationships and gain a love of nature and the outdoors. This has a positive effect within their families and communities.

Jo believes passionately in the connection between humanity and nature, and how experiential learning and outdoor education can bring about positive social and personal change. Jo uses her extensive experience of wilderness and nature therapy to help young people understand themselves and build relationships with others.

Patricia Sampson – Southchurch Hall Inspirational Parkers

Southchurch Hall Gardens in Southend is a picturesque garden, a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument and includes a medieval moated manor house. After years of neglect the park had become known throughout the community as a place only used by street drinkers, drug users and prostitutes. Setting out on a mission to take back ownership of the park for the community and make the park an attractive and safe place to visit the Southchurch Hall Inspirational Parkers have transformed the area.

Alongside the volunteer group, Patricia has worked tirelessly to motivate the community and ensure the park is clean and tidy. She has raised awareness through the community, built a motivated group of volunteers and identified extra support from agencies to help manage the street drinkers and others who had taken control of the park. Using restorative justice principles Patricia managed to bring the community, council and street drinkers together to explain the impact their activity was having on the wider community and helping to change behaviours. This has drastically reduced anti-social behaviour in the park and has improved the quality of life for all.

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