Cadets deliver bags of help to Retirement Living residents
13 March 2018
Following a £1000 grant from the West Mercia Police Community Fund to roll out an initiative designed to help protect the vulnerable in winter, the cadets had the idea of visiting sheltered schemes for older people and handing out ‘goody bags’ filled with useful safety equipment and information.
The hope was to also encourage interaction between the young cadets and residents, getting together and chatting over a cup of tea, to help bridge the generation gap.
After two months of planning, buying equipment and packing the goody bags, Operation Bridging the Gap got underway and 16 cadets travelled to four of the Trust’s schemes at Stirchley and Madeley on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February.
Residents were invited to attend an informal meet and greet event in the communal rooms at their Retirement Living complex, to chat to the cadets about any safety concerns they might have. The cadets then went door-to-door, ensuring every resident received one of their safety bags, which included a torch, high visibility reflectors and anti-theft chains and security bells to attach to purses/wallets.
PC Claire Walker-Shale, Cadet Leader and Youth Engagement Officer said: “We’re thrilled with how Operation Bridging the Gap has been received, it has been a fantastic initiative to be involved with and both the cadets and Retirement Living residents have benefitted.
“All the residents commented on how smart and well-spoken the cadets were and the residents and staff felt reassured having a visible police presence in their community.
“The cadets chose this project not only to build trust in young people but also to make isolated residents feel wanted and respected and we really feel like we achieved those objectives.”
The cadets are now keen to build on the foundations set and develop the relationship with The Wrekin Housing Trust and its Retirement Living scheme residents further.
Coffee mornings and activities during the school summer holidays have been suggested and the cadets have expressed an interest in conducting foot patrols on a regular basis over some of the 34 Trust schemes.
Sue Hughes, Events Coordinator for The Wrekin Housing Trust said: “We’re delighted to be working with the West Mercia Police Cadets and fostering, what we hope will be, long lasting relationships with our older residents. Bridging the gap between the young and older people and the police in such a relaxed environment will give our residents the confidence to approach the police in the future with any concerns they may have.”
West Mercia Police Cadet Natasha Laine said of the operation “From previous experience I know that older people are sometimes nervous or believe that young people are a threat. This scheme is a perfect example of how they should not feel this way, because all we as young people want to do is make them feel safe and proud of the area they call home.”