Duo ensure elderly feel safer at home

Thirty houses are fitted with free security improvements

Dozens of homes have benefitted from security improvements as part of a project to help elderly and vulnerable residents feel safe.

It is the brainchild of city PCSOs Keith Mellor and Paul Washington, who rolled out the Valued Independent Person (VIP) scheme to make sure nobody slipped under the radar.

Now 50 people have been identified, with around 30 houses in the Potteries receiving free improvements to deter offenders and give residents a greater sense of security.

Their dedication has now earned them a nomination for a Sentinel Our Heroes award in the Beyond The Call Of Duty category.

The duo, who are part of the Stoke-on-Trent South Local Policing Team (LPT), became aware of people on their patch who were not known to agencies, but could be considered vulnerable due to age or physical disabilities.

PCSO Mellor, who covers Meir Hay and Sandford Hill, said: “We had come across people who had not referred to other services as they were living in their own homes. They weren’t coming under the umbrella of housing associations, but some were what we would deem as vulnerable.”

PCSO Washington, whose beat covers Fenton, said: “This is about reducing crime and protecting those vulnerable people. We went out to residents’ group meetings and asked them who they felt would benefit from our support.”

The initial VIP project involved taking details of the individual and a contact for the next of kin.

PCSO Washington, aged 44, added: “It helps the officer to know more about a person when they are heading out with them, and also if a neighbour hasn’t seen them for a while, we can check with their relative to find out where that person is before an officer is sent out.”

Relatives of VIPs are also signed up to receive crime updates so they can be kept aware if issues in the area where the person lives.

The duo then stepped up the VIP scheme by linking up with home improvement agency Revival; part of the Staffordshire Housing Group, to carry out security assessments and install devices such as lighting and cameras.

A total of £9,000 funding has been secured for the project. That includes two grants of £3,000 from the police and crime commissioner; along with Screwfix providing around £3,000 of security products at its Leek Road store.

PCSO Mellor, aged 54, added: “It helps people feel like they have had a real service from Staffordshire Police.”

Christina Timmis, Revival manager, said: “Working with Paul and Keith has given us the opportunity to work with customers who were at their most vulnerable.

“Local PCSOs know the area and residents so well that, when they make referrals to us, we know we are helping the people who need it most. Their work has helped make a huge difference.”

Helen Smith, Screwfix area manager, added: “Screwfix is delighted to support the PCSOs’ Valued Independent Person scheme by donating a number of Screwfix security products worth up to£3,000 to support vulnerable households in the Stoke-on-Trent South area.

“We’re pleased to be part of a very worthwhile cause and wish Keith Mellor and Paul Washington all the best for the Our Hero awards.”

(taken from The Sentinel on 24th July 2016)

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Revival Home Improvement Agency. 308 London Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 5AB