Polish project improving life for everyone

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A project to tackle the reasons why eastern Europeans have been over represented in crime statistics has got off to a great start, according to the town’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP).

Cultural differences and alcohol abuse in a minority part of the eastern European community have both been targeted as part of the project, which has already seen reported incidents drop significantly.

The general level of the eastern Europeans within Rugby is 3.4 per cent, yet 12.8 per cent of those who came into custody in Rugby between July 2011 and July 2012 for violent crime were eastern European. Alcohol abuse was seen as the most significant cause of this.

Since July, the CSP has benefitted from Polish link worker Aleksandra Kolenda to help it communicate more effectively with eastern Europeans, and help them access the same services the rest of the population benefit from.

So far, Aleksandra’s work has led to a reduction in anti-social incidents and an increase in people seeking professional help for alcohol problems.

“These problems only affect a tiny minority of eastern Europeans in Rugby, and what we are trying to do is make sure they can benefit from the same services that everyone else can,” she said.

“There is a great, vibrant community of eastern Europeans in Rugby and I think it’d be great to see more involved in organisations like Neighbourhood Watch or consider standing for election. Having met the Polish community at outreach events in schools and churches, I know that is something that many are interested in too. They care about Rugby and want to contribute to life here just as much as everyone else.”

So far Aleksandra’s work has reduced complaints over anti-social behaviour at St Andrew’s church graveyard involving street drinking and stopped complaints altogether from residents living near Newbold Quarry, which was being used to host for barbecues and swimming.

In the case of Newbold Quarry the problem was caused by a cultural difference, as those activities are commonplace in eastern Europe.

Keith Newell, manager of the Community Safety Partnership, said: “We need to be sensitive, and take a softer approach to tackle the underlying causes of these problems, because evidence tells us this works.

“Of course, we also have to remind people that if they do become violent on a night out for example, they can expect to spend a night in a police cell at the very least.

“Next year we want to advise people how to avoid becoming victims of crime, how to increase fire safety and how to access help for the problems that affect every community such as gambling, addictions, and debt.”

To find out more about life in Rugby from a Polish or eastern Europe perspective, visit myrugby.pl.