Having started my Police career in Bristol in 1978, I then moved to Weston-super-Mare (WSM) in 1979, and within a couple of years I married Kay, and am pleased to say we are still happily married.
Once located in WSM, I was part of the 24hr Police response team and soon moved to what was called the “Task Force” – a group of seven officers who responded to a variety of major public order and crime incidents across the whole of Avon and Somerset.
The next step in my Police career was when I was asked to consider the role of a community officer, responsible for a specific area of WSM, a role I thoroughly enjoyed for many years. This involved many aspects including; working with the community, visiting schools and setting up over 100 Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
This then progressed to being asked to work within a North Somerset wide department, giving assistance to other community officers across the district. This role was then combined with the role of Crime Prevention officer and, after various Home Office courses, I joined the newly formed Crime Reduction Unit, which then typically changed its name to the Community Affairs department and finally to the Community Safety Unit!!
During my career, I have spent many years working with partners in the Local Authority on various community projects, and also working with planners to help reduce crime on new estates and problem areas.
Towards the end of my thirty years of service I also deputised in the Coroner’s office, which led, after my retirement in 2008, to a job as Funeral Director in Cooksleys, a well-established and well respected Funeral Director in WSM…. right next to the Police Station!
Having met many thousands of people, of all ages, throughout both my Police Service and period of time in the Funeral service, I became more and more aware of the isolation and loneliness many people feel. It’s not just because of age or losing a partner, it’s because of their own personal circumstances which may include a disability, lacking a bit of confidence or many other reasons.
I saw the growth of care organisations, of businesses offering home help, and the new breed of businesses offering to look after pets, walk dogs etc., but what about the individual who doesn’t need personal or medical care but is alone, lonely or isolated; what options are available to them?
Family members move further afield and life itself is busier so there is less time to visit. There are a decreasing number of groups to join but not everyone wants, or has the confidence, to join a group. The Church has always been there, but congregations have reduced over the years.
My own father lives alone and is a double amputee, and although he regularly gets out and about it brings home to me the everyday problems facing someone in a wheelchair. As can be seen in the photos below his manual wheelchair easily fits in the boot of my vehicle (he also has different sized mobility scooters and each of them can be carried). The rear seats split so two wheelchairs and two people can be taken if required.