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Community plans come up trumps for Moray kids

By Alan Beresford

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A CAREER in policing is hugely varied as we don't deal solely with crime. At Police Scotland, our purpose is to improve the safety and wellbeing of the people, places and communities we serve.

Elgin Community Officer PC Jamie Dey has been busy with a number of youth projects in Moray.
Elgin Community Officer PC Jamie Dey has been busy with a number of youth projects in Moray.

We know that the impact of the pandemic on children and young people was recognised as being one of the most damaging legacies of Covid-19. Locally, authorities had identified children at risk of harm and a surge in food bank use by families. In addition, youth work provision has reduced considerably with fewer community-based interventions.

With this in mind, I approached the Moray Council earlier this year in relation to setting up a summer project to provide every young person in the area with access to a range of free activities and support that would improve their health, quality of life and reduce their risk of harm.

The re:connect programme was launched and ran for seven weeks across a number of locations in Moray. The partnership programme was deemed a huge success with over 50 organisations coming together to put on hundreds of activities for youths of all ages. This project was greatly received by the youths, parents and residents as well as MSP Richard Lochhead and MP Douglas Ross.

Off the back of the re:connect programme I am currently working alongside the Elgin youth development group to make a showcase video and use this for future programmes and events here in Moray as well as further afield across Scotland.

We are currently working on a programme for the October holidays and plans are also developing for a winter schedule, which will offer a large variety of mainly free indoor activities.

Since the return of secondary schools from the summer break, I have been able to visit both the Elgin High School and Academy and offer some pop up surgeries. Having just completed the first ones last week they have already received some great feedback from pupils and staff. The plan going forward is to be based out of the schools once or twice a month and work closely with the school liaison officer in delivering talks and presentations regarding highlighted issues.

Anti-social behaviour continues to be an issue that is reported to us and we have responded by conducting walking and cycle patrols around the Linkwood Burn and industrial estates. We will continue to respond to community concerns about antisocial behaviour and support initiatives such as the re:connect programme.

Since 2019 I have been heavily involved with the New Elgin community action plan. The Community Action Plan has been developed as a partnership project between members of the community in New Elgin, along with Moray Community Planning Partnership partners who work in the area including Police Scotland, Moray Council and the NHS.

Since being involved we have played a role in supporting the plan by working with partners on initiatives such as Junior Road Safety Officer training and campaigns, and School Streets closure schemes to reduce traffic incidents and promote child safety. During lockdown New Elgin saw Chase the dog on many occasions walking the streets and organising local competitions for children. A large number of photographs of children from New Elgin were used on canvases that were given to Dr Gray's Hospital as a gift from Elgin Police Station to thank the NHS and it has been fantastic to see the response to this from the local community.

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