VOTE: Working together for the good of the community

Christians around Bognor Regis are to link with the police in the first venture of its kind in the county.

The initial Redeeming Our Communities project in Sussex will be launched at the Open Gate Baptist Church.

The event, at 7.30pm on May 12 at the Victoria Drive church, is intended to be an evening of inspiration.

It will give everyone interested the chance to meet services such as the police and fire service, councils and churches to find the best ways to work together for the good of the community.

Sgt Christine Holyoake, a Sussex Police community engagement officer based at Bognor police station, said: “I don’t believe any single agency can provide all the answers for all the ills in our society.

“The only way we can have lasting sustainable change is if we work together in partnership.

“There are multiple answers to multiple problems and, to me, finding them comes from partnership working.

“As Christians, we don’t want to sit in church on Sundays, pray and then go home and forget about it.

“We want our faith to be involved in action. It’s about people being motivated to make a difference in our community.

“We want to work with secular agencies and people of other faiths and of none.

“But we’re not out to evangalise people and make them into Christians.”

Debra Green, the national director of ROC, said: “We are delighted to hear about the forthcoming launch of ROC Bognor.

“There is a real sense of anticipation as agencies work together for the good of the local community and we look forward to seeing the results as new community projects take shape.

“The team who are working to make ROC Bognor a reality have inspired us by their commitment and passion.”

Redeeming Our Communities was founded in the north of England in 2004.

It has achieved notable successes. Several areas served by Sussex Police are keen to become involved.

Bognor has become the first because of Sgt Holyoake’s enthusiasm for the scheme and the willingness of the church leaders she has contacted to get involved.

Churchgoer Bob Bravington has told worshippers in the parishes covered by St Mary’s Church at Yapton: “It may be that simply supporting existing projects is the only way forward. Or there may be suggestions for one or two new activities.

“Exactly what can be achieved by Christians and the local police working together is entirely up to those involved.

“But, in about a dozen schemes already flourishing, there have been reductions in crime rates of over 12 per cent, a greater awareness of the frustrating work of the police and a much improved sense of local cohesion and community.”