Tapping into the spirit which is getting our communities through the crisis
The spirit of community resilience which we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is what Neighbourhood Watch is all about, writes Adrian Lowes from Dorset Police’s Citizens In Policing Team in our latest guest blog.
Well, 2020 was a year like no other in modern times. Some may say that it has brought out the best in many of us, and a glance of the worst in others.
Crime has not stopped. Some have seized an opportunity to use COVID-19 scams to prey on the most vulnerable in our society. We must continue to be on our guard and increasingly look out for each other.
I have been asked and have discussed this widely – what does community or belonging to a community mean?
This is a very deep question for me, but one that has real relevance in the current climate. Are communities only visible when they’re threatened or feel threatened during times of crisis? Or should being part of a community be something that goes on all the time, even if takes place ‘under the radar’ with no specific attention drawn to it?
I wanted to start by asking, what does ‘community’ mean? Here’s my definition: “The feeling of sharing things and belonging to a group in the place where you live.”
Yet we all know it goes deeper than that. It is about caring, sharing, looking after or simply taking an interest in the look or feel of your local area. That includes the people, property and visitors in your area.
Keeping others safe
My own observations are that in these current times people are taking ownership and responsibility in the community to keep others safe and secure. Not only from COVID-19, but from those who seek to use criminality to exploit the vulnerable.
At times of a national crisis – in this case an invisible enemy that has caused loss of life, pain and suffering to many and life inconvenience to all – we come together and do what we can to help others.
For some that may be a phone call to a relative or neighbour who is shielding, to check on their welfare. For others it is providing support in different ways, from collecting shopping to using social media to entertain or teach our children. The methods of support I have seen and been made aware of are diverse.
Dorset's Watch schemes
In Dorset, we are fortunate enough to have around 780 schemes under the umbrella of the Association of Dorset Watches. The schemes are wide ranging. As well as the more well known Neighbourhood Watch schemes, we also have Community Speed Watch, Horse Watch and Farm Watch. They all have the same idea at their heart – looking out for everyone within our communities.
The principles of ‘Watch’ schemes are all about tuning into the great spirit of community resilience which we’ve seen so much of during the pandemic.
It’s all about taking a short time, a small effort to look after our community, a neighbour or a person in need of some help in your area. Looking out for each other, being neighbourly, supporting each other in our own ways is a natural extension of a ‘Watch’.
Here in the Dorset Police Resilient Community Coordinators team we are keen to align that community spirit, helping develop and sustain it through some positive engagement.
Keep criminals at bay
It’s about providing you with information that may affect your location and community, looking for a flow of information back to us and advising on what you can do to keep criminals at bay by using effective crime prevention measures.
Let me just close with a quote from the great Winston Churchill, who said in August 1943:
“Come on then, let us to the task, let us go forward together, making the best of ourselves and the best of each other.”
Adrian Lowes, Resilient Community Coordinator, Citizens In Policing Team, Dorset Police