After a successful trial, Kent’s Volunteer Support Warden scheme is expanding across other parts of the county.
A pilot project was carried out in several areas, including Tenterden, Great Chart and Singleton, Bridge and Lower Halstow and, as a result, a further 23 towns and parishes have now been identified as areas which could benefit from the scheme.
Volunteers work alongside KCC’s 70 Community Wardens, getting to know their communities and supporting residents by identifying issues and feeding back to organisations including Trading Standards and Police.
Their role involves talking to local residents and liaising with groups including Neighbourhood Watch, Victim Support and the Fire and Rescue Service. They engage with local groups and attend local meetings, providing advice on topical issues, and also provide local residents with crime prevention materials and advice to help keep them safe.
At a launch event in Tenterden, Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Our existing volunteers are already working well and we are keen to see the project expanded.
“If you are enthusiastic and conscientious then this role could be for you. It is a great opportunity to get involved in projects and engage with local communities and at local events.
“KCC has an excellent track record of successful work with volunteers in many areas, providing them with valuable experience as well as the opportunity to give back to their local community. I am confident that all those we recruit will be well supported both by KCC and in the parish or town where they work.”
John Rivers, President of the Kent Association of Local Councils, said: “This is a great opportunity to make a difference to your community. The volunteers provide a familiar friendly face in your town or village and offer support where it is needed.”
Joanna Watts spoke about her time as a volunteer before becoming a full-time Community Warden. She said: “I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and found it to be one of the most rewarding times of my life.”
She recalled several successful projects, including bike-marking, tackling the problem of dog mess and a road safety campaign, which involved every pupil in one of the primary schools.
“It has been an incredible experience and I feel so honoured at being able to share special memories with some of the residents,” she said.
Another volunteer, Jonathan Slegg, said his main activities to date had including offering help and advice on training, drugs and first aid to young people; identifying residents at risk of scams; involvement in a Speedwatch campaign; and talks on cyber-technology to various youth groups as well as older residents.
“Volunteering makes you feel you are doing something useful for your community,” said Jon, who manages his volunteer duties around a regular day job.
Applicants need to be over 18, have access to the internet and be willing to give 20 hours per month. No previous experience is necessary and full training will be provided with on-going mentoring with a Community Warden.
A uniform will be provided and KCC will cover mileage and travel expenses. A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check needs to be undertaken but this will be at KCC’s expense.
The council is now looking for volunteers in the following areas:
- Boughton Monchelsea
- Chart Sutton
- Horton Kirby and South Darenth
- Kings Hill
- New Ash Green
- Great Chart & Singleton
- Swanscombe & Greenhithe
- Westgate-on- Sea
If you are interested in this volunteer role or would like to know more, you can contact the Community Warden Service on 03000 413455 or fill in an online application form on the website kent.gov.uk/communitywardens.
The closing date is 31 March. Interviews will take place in April and May and familiarisation training will start soon after that.