Stoke-on-Trent officers secure funding to support those in need
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Vulnerable residents and domestic violence victims are being given mobile phones to help them stay in touch with Staffordshire Police and other key agencies.
The initiative has been rolled out in Stoke-on-Trent as part of a wider scheme to provide an extra level of support to members of the community struggling with either mental health issues or fleeing violent situations.
And as part of the scheme dozens of therapeutic colouring books designed for adults are also being given out to help vulnerable residents focus their attention.
The scheme has been introduced after community officers in Stoke-on-Trent North Neighbourhood Policing Team’s Harm Reduction Hub secured £500 in funding through the Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Communities Fund by outlining how their vision would support families during the pandemic.
PCSO Simon Jones, who is based at Burslem Police Station, has helped lead the scheme after identifying a number of individuals who needed some help from the force.
A total of 20 mobile phones have been purchased which are being handed to those in emergency accommodation.
PCSO Jones, an early intervention officer at the Harm Reduction Hub, said: “We have been coming across vulnerable people who have been put up in emergency accommodation, with a large number suffering from domestic abuse. It is vital we are able to stay in touch with these people but equally that they can call us and other agencies who are helping to support them.
“We identified that some had left all their possessions behind and didn’t have mobile phones which would have made it hard for us to have regular contact.”
The phones have also been loaded with useful contacts based on the individual’s situation.
PCSO Jones said: “It is so important they don’t feel cut off while they are in temporary accommodation and this is a way of ensuring we can reach them and they can also speak to agencies who can help them. Useful numbers are put in the phone book so users can quickly get in touch with the right person or team.”
The initiative comes as Staffordshire Police has launched its domestic abuse awareness campaign #YouAreNotAlone. The campaign started on December 7 and runs until early New Year in a drive to highlight the different forms of abuse and reassure victims they are not alone with help always on hand from police and local support agencies.
Along with the phones, PCSO Jones purchased 30 books from The Works store in Hanley. The books contain a number of images and positive phrases which are coloured in and are engineered to help users focus. He said: “We link in with mental health services and they give out therapy books to their clients and they help when people are feeling low or distressed.
“I approached The Works and they kindly sold them to us at a discounted rate. There are puzzles and positive wording which people spend time colouring in and it’s just an alternative to help people cope with their current situation.
"We find that we have repeat callers and the work we do in the hub is to find out what the root cause of their issues are and look at ways of supporting them. These books are not a solution but just a different way of trying to help people.”
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow, of Stoke-on-Trent North NPT, says the scheme represents an example of the force looking to help some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
He said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic some people have felt isolated and as a result their mental health has suffered. In addition, with people spending more time at home we have seen various domestic incidents where individuals have needed somewhere else to live – and sometimes have very few possessions.
“We are always looking at ways we can support our communities and the books and mobile phones are just another way of exploring how we as a force can be proactive and supportive. We are not simply about enforcement but supporting the vulnerable along with victims of crime and helping to put these people back on the right track.”
Anyone with concerns over domestic abuse can report them through private message on Staffordshire Police’s Facebook and Twitter, online or by calling 101. For details of the support on hand visit www.staffordshire.police.uk/domesticabuse