Thursday, 19 June 2008

Debbie earns respect for dedication to estate's youth inclusion project

A PRESENTATION has been made to a woman whose work with young people in the community has helped Avon and Somerset Police to reduce crime in West Somerset.
Debbie Fitzpatrick has co-ordinated the Dreamscheme community youth development project on the Seaward Way estate, in Minehead, since it started last October.
She received a certificate as part of Neighbourhood Watch Week from Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen.
The scheme, based on the concept of work, points and trips, aims to develop a sense of ownership in young people which prevents anti-social behaviour and encourages positive community spirit through work and rewards.
When police set up the Alcombe neighbourhood beat team, a major concern of local residents was anti-social behaviour and lack of respect among young people on the Seaward Way estate.
Police consultated with Knightstone Housing Association, the local youth service, and West Somerset’s crime and disorder reduction partnership, and a Dreamscheme was suggested, with Mrs Fitzpatrick immediately stepping forward to co-ordinate it.
Dreamscheme’s first activity was a clean-up day in October of last year, with residents encouraged to dispose of unwanted, non-recyclable items.
It proved so popular that extra skips had to be provided.
Young people supported by the local agencies helped to clear litter from the residential area as well the estate’s multi-use games area, making it available for soccer coaching by a Plymouth Argyle football coach, with a match at the end of the session as a clear example of ‘work with a reward’.
The second event was a two-day arts project with professional artist and sculptor Rick Ellam making a set while the children made puppets, provided the story, and put on a performance for their parents.
Again, it was so successful that the arts project continues to be held on Tuesday nights with children being collected by minibus driven by local beat manager PC Steve Cutler.
The youth service provides staff and a number of children from the estate attend.
The current project is to design wooden boards for the multi-use games area to help ensure its future.
Sponsorship from local businesses in the form of money and materials helps to support the project.
In January, the children held a car washing event, with equipment provided by the local fire brigade.
Later in the month, Dreamscheme children gardened on the estate, clearing beds and laying a lorry-load of mulch.
The points earned were then used in February when some of the children went to watch Plymouth Argyle play against Hull City in the Football League and despite Plymouth losing 1-0, they enjoyed their day out.
Also in February, the younger children had a swimming trip to the Quantock Lodge Pool combined with a trip to McDonalds, and later in the month many of them cleaned up leaves and litter within the multi-use games area in preparation for a half-term arts project.
After two hours, they had collected 20 bags of rubbish, earned lots of points, and made a real difference to the look of the area.
Mr Hansen said: “Debbie is the central point of contact for the young people on the estate and her role is central to the success of the project.
“It is for this, her hard work and enthusiasm, that she and the ‘team’ have been nominated.”
  • Our photograph shows Debbie Fitzpatrick receiving her certificate from Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen. Photo submitted.

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