Somerset Police have asked for a coffee van for Glastonbury town, following the success of one used in Frome.
The Frome initiative by HOPE Frome has reduced anti-social behaviour
so much that the authorities asked for a similar scheme in Glastonbury, where the problems on the streets are said to be more severe.
Freebies, fairy lights and a chill-out gazebo are the attractions that accompany a Frome parishioner’s caravan which masquerades as a refreshment van. The vehicle was driven to Glastonbury for a trial night in the town at the end of May.
Inspector Mark Nicholson, who leads the Mendip Safer Stronger Neighbourhoods team, said: “As a result of the success of the coffee van in Frome we are delighted to support the trial opening of a van in Glastonbury. This is another good example of the Police working in partnership with voluntary groups, including the Church, to make our local neighbourhoods feel as safe as possible.”
The HOPE Frome coffee van, running since 2008, takes up residence on the high street every other Friday night. Local Christian volunteers don orange fluorescent jackets and spend 10pm till the early hours of the morning giving away free tea, coffee, chocolate and jelly babies, while chatting to late night revellers.
Sam Brinn, project co-ordinator at HOPE Frome said: “Churches are working together and it is amazing that the Police approached us to be part of their strategy. They have said that it makes a tangible difference.”
The project organisers are pleased to offer their services to the large numbers of young people who hang out in Frome’s central streets at night.
“We find that jelly babies and chocolate dispense tension among the youth, so thankfully it is rare to need to call them. Instead the officers like to pop-in for a social call instead!
"The volunteers listen to anyone who visits the van and use any opportunities to talk on a personal level - sharing the hope they have."
The Glastonbury launch night witnessed Mike Adams from Frome, loaded with equipment and helpers, drive the coffee van over to join a
new team in a central car park. He commented: “We had a really positive reception from the young people and local pub landlords. Just being open provides opportunities for deeper conversations.”
David MacGeogh, Vicar of St Johns Glastonbury said: “We have benefited from the support of HOPE Frome and now the Churches Together in Glastonbury are taking on this new project as our own, sourcing our own vehicle and doing our own version of the night service. It is great to develop partnerships with other local churches and the Police. “
Since a HOPE initiative in 2008, church members from all denominations in Frome have taken ownership and committed themselves to several other community projects. These include regular litter picks on deprived estates, a youth club and volunteering at the July Frome Festival, a fortnight of arts and cultural events.