Faith Matters with Robin Gurney
Over the past weeks while the Olympics were on, the issue of security happily took a back seat behind the action, allowing us all to enjoy the sporting achievements of the world’s best.
I mention this because in the furore over security before the Games began police reinforcements were ordered in, drawing attention to the multi-farious activities of the police force.
One such little known activity takes place at our local police station. There, periodically, a police community support officer (PCSO) meets with representatives of the local churches, Christian groups and voluntary organisations to discuss the needs and impact of social outreach activities in Leighton.
The inspiration for this type of meeting, which happens throughout the country, is the Redeeming Our Communities charity. Founded in 2004 this organisation now has over 50 projects throughout the UK. Its aim is to bring about community transformation by creating strategic partnerships, opening up opportunities for crime and disorder reduction and improved community cohesion. This partnership approach has seen crime and anti-social behaviour fall and fresh hope brought to some of the most deprived areas of the country, urban and rural alike.
Although no such project yet exists in our town the police have expressed the hope that Leighton could be engaged in community work on a similar scale. In an ideal set-up not only are churches and the police involved but the fire service, local authorities and voluntary agencies too.
At the latest meeting the scope of church activities aimed at the wider community were described. These range through toddlers groups, community meals in various places, to the Hope On The Street weekly market stall where opportunities are presented for chat or support.
Youth groups also feature in the run-down of activities but the police representative felt that more groups were needed especially to reach out to ethnic minorities.
It is not only in the established churches that social support is offered. At the Community House on the Sandhills estate an AllOne Fellowship Group has started based on the café church idea practised in some churches. The Community House was a long time coming, eight years in fact, but it now offers a multitude of activities to the growing community on this large development.
Almost all of these activities are carried out by volunteers, often in liaison with professionals. So mention must be made of the difficulties being faced by cuts in public services, especially as many of the problems faced by volunteers are caused by family breakdowns and literacy issues among young people. It is hoped that a police presence will continue at these meetings even though the force is facing redundancies and uncertain times with the issue of possible mergers still on the agenda – not to mention the current discussion about the future of police stations.
One thing becomes clear in these meetings – churches and other groups need to work together and help each other, in that way they will provide a better service to the needy in our community.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North