“IT provides us with the ability to get together to promote that child which is our community. It is organisations getting together to work hand in hand.”
Those were the words of Pastor Bruno Kondabeka, from the Chichester Family Church, who spoke at the launch of the Redeeming our Communities (ROC) scheme on Wednesday, June 5.
“As a minister and for us as a church, we are really excited about ROC,” he said.
The new project to bring communities together in the Chichester district was launched in Chichester, and the group has great plans for the district.
Teaming up with Sussex Police, the City Angels, Stop The Traffik, Lifecentre and Chichester Foodbank, various churches in the area got together to start the scheme – with aims to make the area a safer and better place to live.
The first task of ROC is to hold their ‘conversations’ all over the district – asking people what they think the community lacks, and how the community could be improved. Then the organisations will work together to implement whatever it is each part of the district wants.
“Say if in one place the school closes an hour earlier, we would put on an after-school youth group,” said James Wright, a community events coordinator for ROC.
At the launch, Sussex Police praised the work of the City Angels, who are out on the city streets on Friday nights, helping people get home safely, giving them water, coffee, and flip flops.
There are around 100 City Angels who volunteer in Chichester every Friday night, and Sussex Police certainly think they make a difference.
Chief superintendent for West Sussex Martin Walker, said: “There was a 57 per cent reduction in violent crime on Friday nights.”
City Angel Paul Price told the Observer how an incident his daughter experienced two years ago was a big pull in getting involved with the group.
When Jessica Price, 23, was at university in Nottingham, she was separated from her friends on a night out, and was grabbed by a stranger.
She managed to talk her attacker out of strangling her and the man was later charged with a murder he had committed just weeks before the incident.
“So I have a strong motivation to be a city angel,” Paul said.
“It’s support and care for people who are out there in whatever way they need – if people have had too much to drink and are really struggling, if they are sick or separated from friends.
“I have given a guy a lift home before, he was going to walk from Chichester to East Wittering in cold weather.”
Chichester Foodbank is also involved in ROC and project leader Joanne Kondaseka said the bank had fed nearly 700 people since the doors opened last September.
“More people are coming through our doors,” she said.
This September it plans to open foodbanks in Selsey, Midhurst and Petworth, although Selsey already has an emergency foodbank at the methodist church.
“Members of the public have been so good, it has really been amazing,” said Joanne.
Paul Wilson, a former policeman and ROC representative for the south east, spoke at the launch event on Wednesday.
“My passion is about communities,” he said.
“I just love to see communities coming together and starting to tackle some of the issues that are all around them.
“And that is what we are all about at ROC.”