As a partnership it is important, we demonstrate the value of partnership working and how this directly benefits our communities across Ayrshire. We want to highlight services and organisations who work together to support our communities in an effort to reduce re-offending.
Through the Community Justice Ayrshire Partnership, links between Police Scotland and two Ayrshire User Involvement Groups resulted in positive outcomes for members in supporting activities, throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Ayrshire Police Division’s Local Partnership and Initiative Fund, which helps support local prevention-based activities that promote safety and wellbeing in our communities, was utilised to support the work of South Ayrshire’s People’s Involvement Networking Group (PING) and East Ayrshire’s Community Voices Network (CVN).
People’s Involvement Networking Group (PING) in South Ayrshire was set up in conjunction with Justice Services and South Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership. The core aims of the group include:
- Establishing and enhancing effective partnerships
- Encouraging and enhancing exit processes and opportunities
- Establishing and embedding a variety of opportunities for user involvement and participation in the design, development, and delivery of community justice services
- Building community facing and community engaging services
- Supporting recovery, desistance, and social integration
Whilst the PING user-involvement group has been unable to physically meet during the pandemic, there have been a range of online activities taking place in conjunction with RecoveryAyr and South Ayrshire ADP Peer Workers. A lot of thought has gone into adapting activities and means of communication and support for others, with some creative thinking about what would be of most benefit to those in need during lockdown. The funding provided by Police Scotland has been vital in helping to deliver a wide range of activities including:
- Moving group activities online,
- Providing support with access to devices and data,
- Delivery of online cooking classes including the provision of resources each week. This has allowed group members to feel less isolated during the Covid-19 Pandemic as well as providing them with new skills.
As restrictions ease the group are reviewing the resumption of face-to-face groups and activities.
The jointly delivered ‘Natter and Cook’ group meets weekly with up to 15 people attending online for a one-hour cooking class which is facilitated by a local chef. Group members decide what they would like to cook each week and to date there has been a variety of items made including soup, steak pie, casserole, and pasta dishes, as well as sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie and the classic pineapple upside down cake.
Following the success of the ‘Natter and Cook’ group PING and RecoveryAyr are now piloting a six-week cooking course ‘Cooking Thyme’ which aims to increase kitchen, cooking, and budgeting skills, as well as improving people’s confidence to be able to cook meals for their family and friends. All the ingredients for both groups are locally sourced and delivered to people in advance of each session along with basic kitchen equipment if this is needed.
Richard Higgins, Development Worker for PING said:
“Cooking Thyme has been a fantastic addition to our ever-growing list of activities. It enables people to gain confidence in all areas of the kitchen and provides life skills with budgeting advice, where smart choices when shopping can free up money for other necessities. Information is also provided on storing and freezing food which reduces waste and stretches the time between shops. We look at healthier options which can lead to a better physical and mental lifestyle. With Cooking Thyme being limited to six people there is a more individual focus on peoples likes and lifestyles enabling a tailored approach to where, when, and how they shop.”
Quotes from Cooking Thyme members:
“It has definitely increased my confidence and helped with my budgeting”
“The cooking group has given me my confidence back, I really enjoyed going on and interacting with people and the banter is class”
“I have been inspired to cook dishes I would never have tried, and it’s given me the confidence to try new things. Also helped my budget, learn new skills, have fun, and laugh, especially seeing others enjoy it too”
For further information and to follow PING activities on their social media platforms:
East Ayrshire’s Community Voices Network (CVN) also benefitted from Ayrshire Police Division’s Local Partnership and Initiative Fund. This has allowed CVN to consider the development of a cooking class programme. It is also hoped that raised planting beds will be built which will provide people the opportunity to grow vegetables and will provide additional support to the foodbank.
For further information and to follow CVN activities on their social media platform CVN – Community Voice Network (@ComVoiceNetwork) / Twitter
Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain said:
“I am delighted to be able to support Community Justice Ayrshire with funding that will assist community projects across Ayrshire. This opportunity really does highlight the fantastic benefits of working closely with our partners and local communities.”