Good neighbours

Street associations celebration in Bucks

The flags will be out on July 4 for a good neighbour scheme that tackles loneliness, social isolation and doorstep crime across Buckinghamshire.  

That is the day that the county’s six established Street Association areas come together at Missenden Abbey to celebrate two years of good old-fashioned neighbourliness involving more than 5,000 residents.

Project lead Helen CavilI said it was a good opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to 326 volunteer Street Association members who keep the wheels of the scheme turning.

The celebration includes afternoon tea when she will present results and statistics from the good work Street Association members have been doing throughout the year.

It heralds a season of new training workshops covering scams awareness, exploitation of vulnerable residents by drug gangs, coping with domestic abuse, and support for people with dementia.

The six Street Associations – Hughenden, Aylesbury Quarrendon, Aylesbury Walton Court, Princes Risborough, Chesham and Burnham – were set up as pilot schemes, run solely by neighbours with help from Buckinghamshire County Council.  

They aim to recruit people in every road and provide them with resources and free workshops to heighten awareness of issues such as doorstep crime, scams and domestic abuse, to increase the wellbeing and safety of the community.

In the past couple of years, said Helen, there had been more than 300 referrals to the county council’s preventative services where Street Association members have identified vulnerable people who need extra support, and who might have slipped under the radar – a 30% increase.

Members have also reported to Trading Standards 28 cases of doorstep, mail and phone scams, which would not normally have been expected. In that time, it is estimated that Trading Standards officers have intervened to stop more than £60,000 being cheated from vulnerable residents.  

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said: ‘This scheme is doing exactly what it says on the tin, and its success is down to the overwhelming enthusiasm of residents who’ve got involved. Their commitment to restore community spirit, encourage their neighbours to look out for each other, and create communities where those who are vulnerable feel safe, is inspiring.’

He said it was easy to start a Street Association – with one simple information pack, a desire to know your neighbours are safe and well, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.<> 

Buckinghamshire’s Street Association scheme, funded by county and Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, was shortlisted for two national awards earlier this year. As a result, 13 new communities have shown interest in starting schemes, and already 50 volunteers have become street members outside of the pilot areas.

Helen will lead the free training and awareness workshops in the coming four months supported by county council Community Link Officers and Trading Standards officers.

Celebration mood – Helen Cavill, left, and Gareth Williams, right, are joined by Street Association volunteers

June 30, 2019