On a recent community visit to Yeovil, Sue Mountstevens, Police & Crime Commissioner for Avon & Somerset, met members of the multi-agency partnership group behind South Somerset’s Zero Project.
Zero’s key aims are to reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour and binge drinking throughout South Somerset by providing night-time events where young people aged 13 to 17 can meet in a safe place, socialise and experience the atmosphere of a nightclub.
Themed events are held six times a year at Yeovil nightclub Club Neo, attracting 200 to 300 young people across a wide area that extends into Dorset and Wiltshire. Events are supported by experienced youth workers and the local Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and young people are encouraged to use appropriate behaviour which includes not consuming alcohol and ensuring they have safe routes to and from the venue. The Police & Crime Commissioner’s fund has assisted with the ongoing project costs as local police officers and PCSOs are vital project partners along with South Somerset District Council, Club Neo, Inspired2Achieve, Somerset Drug and Alcohol Partnership, and Yeovil Street Pastors.
There are some similar, smaller projects in other parts of the country but South Somerset’s Zero is believed to be unique for the numbers and size of area that it reaches and in being held in a nightclub.
Police Community Support Officer, Jess Forsey, said at the meeting: “I used to enjoy coming to Zero myself as a youngster and now I can give something back by being involved as a PCSO. Young people gain from experiencing a nightclub safely with some controls. It can take away the need to go to excess when they are 18 and suddenly have access to clubs and alcohol.”
TJ is a Zero Project Young Promoter who spreads the word about Zero to other youngsters. He demonstrated for Sue Mountstevens the smart camera used at Zero events to put out instant photos and messages on Zero’s Facebook page.
Laurence Willis, Assistant Director (Environment) at South Somerset District Council, said: “Members of the partnership group were delighted to have this opportunity to tell Sue Mountstevens a bit more about the Zero Project. Funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s community fund helped with the ongoing project costs and the involvement of police and community support officers is central to the project’s success. They are involved every step of the way with planning events and always there on the night to provide support and guidance for the young people attending.”