News from Sandwich’s Community Warden Peter Gill

CommunityAd features Peter Gill, the Community Warden for Sandwich, writing about help and intervention.


Help! I need somebody, Help! Not just anybody, Help! You know I need someone, Help!


These familiar words of The Beatles remind us that sometimes we all need help. Within our local communities there are many examples of practical help and support being offered by neighbours, groups and organisations who all have something in common…they recognise the need, identify the support and then act. The first two elements are important however it is the third that is essential if anything is to change. “Actions speak louder than words” is very true… so how do we make this a reality?


Being an “active bystander means being aware of when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choosing to challenge it. If you do not feel comfortable doing this directly, then get someone to help you such as a friend or someone in authority” (quote from Breaking the silence – University of Cambridge).


I am not advocating that you put yourself or anyone else at risk. If this is the case, contact Kent Police as a 999 emergency. 


There does, however, remain an entire spectrum of help and intervention between asking “are you ok” or “do you need help” to contacting the emergency services. Where you fit into the spectrum will depend on both your situation and that of the person needing help, but doing something positive no matter how minor makes you an active bystander.


Equally, there is an entire spectrum of inappropriate behaviour that can be found in our neighbourhoods. Most will be of a nature coming under the banner of Anti-Social Behaviour, but our response can make a difference. ASB is defined in law as “behaviour by a person which causes harassment, alarm or distress to persons not of the same household as the person”.  I have heard on many occasions that reporting such behaviour and activities to the Police does not change anything, however I believe that it remains also important to report concerns to inform policing, staffing and deployment. Dover District Council has a Community Safety Partnership with the many partners involved in community safety. They operate a Community Trigger system whereby if you have reported at least three incidents of ASB within the previous six months, the partners will work together to review the facts and seek to resolve the problem. The system can be activated through DDC online or by contacting 01304 872220.


Where Domestic Abuse is involved, it is important to recognise that friends, family, colleagues and strangers play a vital role in “calling out” the perpetrator, as this unacceptable behaviour can sometimes slip under the radar. Survivors will often be accustomed or acceptant of the relationship or be too frightened/embarrassed to report it. The mental and physical impact of such crime can last a lifetime, yet intervention and support are available from the active bystander – “are you ok” through to the Police, support networks and charities.


I finish my article with further words of encouragement from The Beatles:

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down

And I do appreciate you being ’round

Help me get my feet back on the ground

Won’t you please, please help me



Peter Gill / Kent Community Warden Service – Community Warden/Sandwich, Eastry and Ash.

Public Protection service / Environment Planning and Enforcement / Growth, Environment and Transport | Mob. 07703 454190

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