Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has praised the work of neighbourhood wardens, saying that he has been “immensely impressed” by their community engagement. Speaking after a visit on Friday (3 November) to meet Pulborough and Nutbourne’s two neighbourhood wardens, Carol Boniface and Vanessa Green, the MP paid tribute to their work and said that he was a “big supporter” of the scheme.
Horsham District Council runs the warden scheme in partnership with parish councils. Wardens have operated in Steyning, Bramber, Upper Beeding and Ashington for over a decade, and in July of last year Pulborough and Nutbourne became the third area in the Arundel & South Downs constituency to introduce them.
Improving quality of life
Based in the community, the wardens work alongside partner agencies to improve the quality of life for everyone by undertaking a number of activities from enforcement to community development. They work with all sections of the community to find solutions to problems whilst promoting community cohesion and resilience.
The wardens have some enforcement powers relating to antisocial behaviour, and are accredited by Sussex Police. However, the wardens themselves are keen to highlight that they are not a replacement for police officers. They do carry out high visibility patrols in their respective areas to deter crime and antisocial behaviour, and they deal with environmental issues that affect the local quality of life such as dog fouling. Carol explained to Mr Herbert that their approach is based in the belief that prevention is better than cure.
Ray Quested, Chairman of Pulborough Parish Council, said in his annual report that “the experiment to employ Neighbourhood Wardens seems to have had a profound effect on the village as a whole from within all age groups. Not only are residents seeing and reporting the benefit of their presence, but the wardens themselves have said how much they are enjoying their roles within the community.” Steyning, Bramber, Upper Beeding and Ashington’s wardens have received similar local support, and local taxpayers have voted to continue funding their wardens through parish precepts.
Vanessa Green said: “It has been a privilege to deliver the Warden scheme in Pulborough and Nutbourne. I think that the Parishes have been forward thinking in identifying the need to provide provisions and support to the older vulnerable residents, recognising that the older population is growing. Living in a rural setting can also present obstacles to accessing the support services, people can become lonely and isolated and we aim to reach those residents and signpost for support and inclusion. We feel that engagement is key and for us to form strong working relationships with other agencies to highlight and find solutions to concerns that arise in the community.”
Carol Boniface added: “We have both been overwhelmed by how positively the scheme has been received. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to help and enrich the lives of so many members of the community through engagement, support and much needed referrals. We’ve had great support from our parish council and steering group and are really pleased with how things are going.
“Residents feel ‘looked after'”
“The biggest comment we get is that residents feel supported and ‘looked after’ through our high visibility patrols on our late shifts. We get involved in local projects to help support and promote them and are currently looking to improve and increase dementia awareness and provision within the community. We’ve also engaged our sports development team at the council to provide alternative sports within the village for all ages. You will always find us at the Farmer’s Market in the Village Hall on the 4th Saturday of each month 09:30-12:30 alongside parish council where we will be happy to meet with you and tell you more about what we get up to!”
Mr Herbert said that he is pleased the warden scheme is being offered to other parishes: “I have been immensely impressed to learn about the kind of community engagement which the wardens do, including their work with the elderly and vulnerable as well as young people. As times and the nature of crime has changed, and with pressure on resources, the pattern of local policing has altered, too. Our PCSOs now cover very large areas, although innovative new shared outposts such as the one in Petworth’s library which I helped to open last year can give them a local base. The police still have a vital job to do and must maintain their presence, but wardens can add something else in every village. Their popularity speaks for itself and I would like to see more of them.”