Posted: Friday 20th January 2017
We all undoubtedly have an inbuilt desire to keep our loved ones safe and this is the focus of a national campaign I am supporting, helping to protect the elderly members of our community from financial abuse. Action on Elder Abuse suggests that over 350 older people across Bristol may currently be experiencing financial abuse. Typical financial crimes against older people include fraud, forgery, doorstep crime and phone or internet scams. Elder abuse is a big problem and one that often goes unreported. It fills me with sadness to think this cruelty happens to members of our elderly community. If you are being abused or you think an elderly friend, neighbour or relative is at risk of being abused, I would encourage you to act now and report it. You can also tune in to my next Facebook live web chat with the Chief Constable on January 24, where fraud is one of the topics being discussed. Other topics we’ll be covering include Tasers, rural crime and body worn video cameras.
In the same way we care for the elderly members of our community, so do and should we our young people. In my last column I briefly touched on my commitment to making PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) statutory and working closely with Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on this. Marvin and I will be writing to the Government with our joint vision of wanting quality PSHE lessons taught in every school across Bristol and more widely, by making PSHE a statutory subject on the curriculum. The impact of teaching our young people about PSHE is vast and we all want our children to grow up happy and healthy, with positive relationships based on empathy and respect. Prevention is crucial in eradicating crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse and emerging crimes such as child sexual exploitation. Mainstreaming discussions into our children’s education is also an important way of eliminating this behaviour for future generations to come.
I supported the launch of The Southmead Project’s Wall of Silence Exhibition last week, although incredible to hear the survivors stories, is a stark reminder of where not enough has been done to protect those who are most vulnerable from harm. It also highlighted the lifelong implications on the survivor, victimised at a time when they should be living a care free childhood, protected from the world by those around them. The exhibition has been created by survivors of child abuse, who now as adults are expressing themselves and their feelings through the medium of art. I was once again incredibly moved by the survivor’s experiences and the exhibition is a poignant reminder that we all have a responsibility to give abused children a louder voice.
I am also proud to say that The Southmead Project is one of many groups supported by my Community Action Fund. I originally established the fund in May 2013 to support communities in tackling the issues that matter most to them. Over £227,000 has been awarded to community initiatives across Bristol to date, and I would encourage voluntary organisations and community groups to continue applying for a grant of up to £3,000. More information about the Community Action Fund, who’s been awarded funding and how to apply visit my website – www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk