A Northamptonshire Police Community Support Officer who has helped changed the lives of local residents in Northampton has been honoured for going above and beyond the call of duty.
PCSO Rachael Barber was among the winner’s at this year’s Northampton Borough Council’s Heart of the Community Awards in recognition of her youth engagement work in the town’s St David’s Ward.
After running weekly football training sessions last summer, Rachael set up a new youth club in January, after securing two grants from the Northamptonshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s Supporting Communities Fund.
With the support from parents and local residents who volunteer at the youth club, St David’s Church is Eastern Avenue has now become a focal point for the community, offering activities for all ages.
Rachael, who is based in the Northampton Neighbourhood Policing Team at Weston Favell Police Station, said: “The youth club has not only given the youngsters somewhere safe to go but has given them a sense of belonging.
“As a result of everyone having more respect and pride for their local area, there’s less anti-social behaviour and more community spirit with parents volunteering to help run activities.
“The Northamptonshire Emergency Services Cadets have also been fantastic with some of the Northampton cadets volunteering at the youth club each week, which has provided a positive role model for some of the younger members.”
In addition to organising games, arts & crafts and sports activities, Rachael has helped the youngsters enter this year’s Northampton in Bloom competition as well as organising two fundraising events.
Rachael added: “It’s been great watching them take ownership for this small area of the community. They really worked hard clearing the church yard, repairing fencing and planting daffodils.
“We have also raised more than £600 through packing bags at Tesco and holding a community fun day in April, which the youngsters will use to buy new equipment for the youth club and other community groups.”
The youth club meets at the St David’s Church in Eastern Avenue on Wednesday between 6pm and 7.30pm, and is open to children and young people of all ages. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to drop in.
These are just two of a number of community safety initiatives across the county to receive financial support from the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold, who awarded these projects £830.
Stephen said: “I’m thrilled for Rachael that her incredible hard-work has been recognised through this award. Her efforts to engage young people have paid dividends for the wider community in St David’s and she is a credit to Northamptonshire Police.”
Rachael was presented with her Heart in the Community Award from Northampton Mayor, Councillor Tony Ansell, at a ceremony and dinner held at the Guildhall on May 7.