Thanks to the Good Citizens of Gwent

Each year, members of the public who serve their community and support the work of the Police are recognised for their efforts at the annual Gwent Police Awards. To personally thank them for their efforts, over the last few weeks, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, has been visiting members of the public who were nominated for a Gwent Good Citizen Award in 2014.

The Gwent Good Citizen Award recognises selfless and public-spirited actions by members of the public, their bravery or their work as community champions, all of which assists the police and the community.
In Newport, Mr Harris visited 80 year old Bridie Luis Fuentes who lives on the Goodrich Grove estate in Duffryn. Bridie established the Neighbourhood Watch scheme on the cul-de-sac 9 years ago after a car was broken into. Since then she has provided an exceptional level of support to the local scheme and her drive and determination to improve the area for the benefit of the residents has been a shining example of good citizenship in practice.

Generating support, 23 households have now signed up to the scheme and Bridie has built strong relationships with local police who attend the meetings she coordinates. She has also encouraged fundraising efforts to pay for Christmas parties and Summer Street parties which have brought the community together.

She has worked with Trading Standards to establish Goodrich Grove as a 'No Cold Calling Zone' - one of the first such zones in Newport; organised security marking sessions for all vulnerable items, including garden equipment; and successfully campaigned for bus stops immediately outside the estate which were omitted from the original plans.

In Caerphilly, the Deputy PCC popped in to see Rob Barnes who is the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator for the St Martin's estate in the town. Rob set up the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme in its new guise after retiring in 2010. From humble beginnings, the watch membership has increased steadily and there are currently 80 households registered with 30 - 40 residents attending each of the quarterly meetings.

Boasting an abundance of community spirit, Rob has helped resolve many issues on the estate that have frustrated and affected residents for many years and which would still be affecting them today without his determination. He has taken ownership of these problems and has worked effectively with Caerphilly County Borough Council and Gwent Police to resolve them. These include improving road safety and paths; improving the environment by tackling issues around dog fouling and litter and instigating council initiatives such as road sweeping and trimming trees and hedges.

He has also made himself available for advice on crime prevention and has provided residents with no cold calling stickers, UV marker pens and crime prevention leaflets.

In rural Monmouthshire, the Deputy met with Kathy Hopkins at her farm in Llangovan. Kathy is the local Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator and established the scheme after two incidents of theft on her farm and a spate of thefts in the area. She has gone the extra mile to ensure everyone works together in the rural community to fight crime.

Kathy has produced a map with a list of all the local farms and properties in the area and has provided names and contact numbers next to each of them. The list has been distributed to the 30 or so watch members which enables them to contact each other as soon as a suspicious vehicles or persons are spotted. Keeping the community informed, Kathy provides regular email updates to all rural households and farms in the area who have signed up to the watch scheme.

During the last of his visits, Mr Harris met with Sue Smale in Abertillery, a founding member of Ffrindiau Tyleri which is an overarching community network for Abertillery and the surrounding areas. It encompasses local community groups and works together to enable activities and events to take place throughout the year. The main projects undertaken are the annual Aberfest and Winterfest events. All of Sue's work is done on a purely voluntary basis and she has been an active member since 2009.

Sue is a keen advocate of intergenerational working and has been successful in obtaining funding to work with young people in the area. This has helped reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime. Sue's main aim is to rejuvenate the area and the people and to create a safe and cohesive environment where everyone can play a role.

Congratulating the residents on their hard work in the community, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, said: "It's important to recognise the achievements of people who drive forward these initiatives voluntarily with the sole purpose of improving where they live. I was humbled by the 'can do' attitude of the residents I met and it's truly amazing how much these volunteers contribute to society by bringing people together to make their communities safer.

It's all about people talking to each other and building relationships with the Police and local partners. All this has a knock on effect in terms in terms of generating positive community spirit and I would like to thank these residents for all their efforts."