Activators can be found in all walks of life. Community leaders, such as police and community support officers [PCSO’s], have a strong and unique connection with their local area and local people.

As well as creating safer neighbourhoods, PCSOs have grown to support communities in the prevention of crime by getting to know their local people through community engagement.

Chester Police began to deliver youth engagement sessions around six years ago to help break down the barriers that existed between police services and young people in Chester and wider areas of Cheshire West. What started with a football and a few dedicated PCSOs has grown into something that children and young people across Chester, Frodsham, Malpas and Northwich now eagerly await and look forward to.

Three years ago PCSO Lauren Davies (left) joined Chester Police with a beat area of Handbridge and Westminster Park. Over her time as a local PCSO, Lauren began to lead on the youth engagement sessions and is now the youth engagement PCSO for Chester and the surrounding areas. A keen footballer herself, she has a strong interest in physical activity (regularly hitting the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity a week!) and proves a worthy opponent for the children and young people she engages with.

In 2017 Lauren led the busiest year yet, holding 37 plus events, 19 of which happened over the summer holidays – a period of time when anti-social behaviour can spike due to schools being closed.

Using the panna cage (right), or often just a ball and a field – and sometimes teaming up with other organisations such as community safety wardens at Cheshire West and Chester Council, and community interest companies such as Streetwise Soccer -, Lauren and the Chester Police team use sport and physical activity to connect with children and young people. Uniformed police even join in to normalise and encourage interaction with the people there to protect the community.

Not only are the events good for building relationships and getting kids to burn off steam, but also for education. While young people play, the police team have opportunities to chat with them and parents about other issues, such as anti-social behaviour, drug use, drinking, swearing, and poor behaviour, and more.

Lauren has kids from as young as two right up to age 16 joining in and has big plans to use physical activity to continue to break down barriers between young people and police, strengthening the trust and respect between them, creating safer communities for all over 2018. This year Chester Police have invested in brand new equipment, including an inflatable panna cage (below).

Lauren and Chester Police are an excellent example of Activators in their local community – using physical activity and sport, not just to encourage people to do more activity in their daily lives, but also for a range of social and community cohesion. For more information about activators, visit the Activators webpage, or call 01606 330 212.