One of the key achievements I'm most proud of since I came into office is my decision to reopen and extend the opening hours of front desks at several police stations throughout Gwent. It's been heartening to see the positive reaction from members of the public and I'm glad I was able to act on their direct feedback.
Ystrad Mynach is one of the stations now open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and residents were out in force last week for a community BBQ hosted at the station. It was great seeing everyone come together to share food, friendship and fun with local officers. I was approached by residents during the event who wanted to tell me how delighted they were to see their local station open again and to have improved access to their local police. And this is what I'm hearing from people throughout the region.
I want to see the use of and engagement opportunities at police stations maximised to ensure they are a hub for local people and that Gwent Police has a strong presence in the heart of the communities it serves. In recent developments, Victim Support are now hosting weekly victims' surgeries at Pontypool Police station and Bargoed Town Council have also relocated their office and chamber to the previously empty Police Court building adjacent to the station. By working with partners in the community we are injecting life back into unused parts of these stations and we are providing additional facilities for residents.
As Commissioners we play an important role in providing services for victims and in using our collective voice to lobby Government on areas of concern. A recent visit to the Black Association of Women Step Out (BAWSO) Refuge Centre in Newport really opened my eyes to the plight of women and children who are at risk of or who are suffering domestic abuse. It was insightful talking to some of the service users about the wonderful job that staff and volunteers at the centre do in providing people who are at their most vulnerable with secure accommodation and essential support to help them get their lives back on track.
And staying on the topic of commissioning services, I was delighted to announce my Partnership Fund open for applications again last month. Gwent projects now have until the end of June to submit their bids for a share of £150,000 seized from criminals and from the sale of unclaimed found property to improve their communities. Those funded last year have already made a positive difference and it's fitting to see money recovered from criminals going back to benefit local people.