Can community engagement reduce violence and anti-social behaviour?
Back in early 2020 Ashford Community Safety Partnership (ACSP) commissioned C3 to implement community engagement using the CHESS tool in two areas of Ashford: Bockhanger and Beaver, focusing on engaging with young people aged 16-25. This initiative was part of ACSP’s work on violence reduction and reducing anti-social behaviour. ACSP were interested to hear directly from young people about the factors that make it easier (or harder!) for them to live healthily in their local areas, including what contributes to young people feeling safe. The intention is that the insights, ideas and actions resulting from CHESS in Ashford will contribute to reductions in violence and anti-social behaviour. ACSP were keen to work with C3 and experiment with an innovative approach to engaging with young people, that focuses on supporting them to think in new ways about their health, wellbeing, safety, local community and built environment and to generate their own ideas and actions for change. C3’s community engagement programme, and in particular CHESS offered an opportunity to try a different approach to engaging with young people in Ashford, understand their perspectives and seek their ideas for change.
After several attempts at rescheduling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bockhanger CHESS walk and insight sessions finally went ahead in October 2021.
The young people who participated in the CHESS project in Bockhanger learnt about the importance of diet, physical activity and tobacco use as risk factors for the chronic diseases that account for over 70% of deaths worldwide, and how our local built environment can make it easier, or more difficult, to live healthily. Using the CHESS tool they took part in a guided community walk and conducted surveys of parks and open spaces, and food outlets, to consider how these principles apply and translate to real-life aspects of living in Ashford.
Through consideration of the data that they collected, and facilitated discussions, the participants have shared their experiences, views and perspectives in response to the question: how can we make Ashford a place where young people can live healthily and feel safe? And subsequently generated a wealth of insight and ideas for action and change.
C3 looks forward to adding to these findings after delivering the CHESS project with young people in Beaver ward in spring 2022 and producing a final action plan.
Read more about C3’s community engagement projects, including our two country project ASPIRE.