A RALLYING move is underway to secure and improve vital Homewatch services across Saddleworth and Lees.
Royce Franklin, chair of Saddleworth Homewatch, called a meeting to discuss their future after concerns over their low profile, connection with the police and impact of cuts.
He said: “I have been concerned for some time Homewatch does not have a very high profile in Saddleworth. We have to try to see what can be done.
“I have been in Homewatch for around 20 years and am still committed – but now I am the only coordinator in Diggle.
“I do not want to be critical of our local police but rather want to find ways of supporting them and working together better.
“Police need the community in the shape of Homewatch more than they ever have simply because of the cuts.
“But we haven’t had the services and help we could hope for from the central team and somehow we need to change that.”
Shirley Holt, Divisional Manager of Homewatch for Oldham, told the gathering that data input errors, a new structure and cuts have slowed down progress.
She explained that from October the new system will see Homewatch become part of a force association across Greater Manchester run in conjunction with the police.
She added: “There are so many rules we have to abide by to get things done and that slows things down.
“Also, funding now goes to a divisional pot for the whole area not just specific sections so that is something we are having to take into account.”
But there was a positive response from members and guests at the meeting with ideas put forward to help Homewatch flourish.
Lisa MacDonald, District Co-ordinator for Saddleworth and Lees, offered the help of her team to send out regular information through their e-network about the group.
She said: “I am keen to see Homewatch continue its good work across Saddleworth and Lees as I know it has been really active and useful over the years.”
Sue Palfrey, Youth Development Officer for Saddleworth and Lees, is keen to get young people across the area involved with the initiative.
She explained: “I will be working with young people from Saddleworth School on community projects and I think Homewatch would be good for them to be part of.
“They are members of the community too so need to know how to look out for the community and be aware of what is going on around them.
“They are very good at sharing information quickly so perhaps we can learn something from them!” she added.
And Joan Sykes, chair of the Scouthead and Austerlands Community Group, told of the positive relationship built up with the police through their monthly coffee mornings.
The police hold a surgery as part of the sessions at 11am on the third Thursday of each month at the Three Crowns pub on Huddersfield Road.
Joan said: “It is a more relaxed setting so people feel more comfortable having a chat with the police and raising any issues. I would encourage other groups to do it too.”
The police also hold monthly surgeries and visit other groups across the area including at Delph Methodist Church, in Lees, at libraries and playgroups.
For more information about Saddleworth Homewatch and how to get involved, please contact Royce Franklin by calling 01457 873248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up for the GMP e-watch bulletin, please contact PCSOs Monica Seville (email@example.com) or Kath Crompton (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 0161 856 4523.