‘A hand up not a hand out.’ That is what Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill heard at a recent visit to The Big Issue offices in Bournemouth as part of his community engagement day.
Martyn met staff and two Big Issue vendors who shared their story of becoming homeless and how working with the Big Issue was rebuilding their self-esteem, providing structure in their lives and a purpose.
Dorset PCC, Martyn Underhill said: “As Police and Crime Commissioner it’s really important that I understand and value all members of society. What really struck me was when I met Ron and Kelvin who both sell The Big Issue. I saw how difficult it is for someone like them to get a step-up.”
During training, all Police officers take community placements such as working with the Big Issue and they have a go at selling the magazine as part of their training. Martyn joined Kelvin, a Big Issue vendor on his pitch in Bournemouth town centre.
Martyn continued: “I found it a real challenge…..and extremely cold!”
The Police & Crime Commissioners community day also included an opportunity for him to speak with frontline police officers, detectives and staff. He visited the sexual assault referral centre (SARC) where he met the team and learnt more about their work. The space is designed to provide a comfortable private space for interviews, examinations and support with trained staff able to take care of victims of sexual violence.
Also during the day, he visited Hannah House, which provides accommodation for people who are homeless and have an alcohol dependency. He heard how over a period of up to two years with support, tenants would reduce their alcohol intake, and be reintegrated into society.
Throughout the day the PCC’s engagement team met with residents at ASDA to hear their views on policing and crime in the county, speaking to over 100 people. Martyn also had a spell at the ASDA stall, and summed his day up as “informative, challenging on occasions, and exciting”