An off-duty Herts Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) helped spread the festive cheer despite the restrictions by serving meals to the homeless on Christmas Day.
PCSO Simon Jackman served food at the event organised by Sarsha Donnelly and Carla Watson from Hightown Housing Association’s Homeless Outreach Team.
The festive dinner, sponsored by the Monks Inn and hosted by the Salvation Army in Hemel Hempstead, had to be scaled back as a result of the Tier 4 restrictions in operation at the time.
Simon explained: “It had originally been planned as a socially distanced sit-down meal for up to 40 people, however because of the changing regulations, meals had to be handed out at the side door in containers instead.
“The meals still had the full festive spread and for afters mince pies were served with custard. Thanks to everyone involved, the Christmas spirit did win out here despite the hardship faced by many at the moment.”
All the food was donated by ASDA. Sadly, haircuts offered by local barbers who wanted to support the event, had to be cancelled.
Police in Hemel Hempstead have been building strong working relationship with local stakeholders to help manage issues relating to the homeless community. The pandemic also has presented further challenges.
Staff from the Dacorum Borough Council, Hightown, Dens, the South Hill Centre and others have come together for a joint approach. Now through the organisation JOHN (Joint Outreach Homeless Network) the partnership is working with police in other areas locally and linking with organisations such as Open Door.
Simon added: “The event was a great success and provided some cheer to those living on the streets. But it was also an important way of building communication and trust with this group of people. In the longer term we believe this trust will assist our work to help improve their lives and in turn help prevent crime and anti-social behaviour often associated with homelessness.”