Somerset unites for safer town centres with empowering youth hubs

As the half-term holiday approaches, organisations are collaborating to support children and young people and prevent concerns around violence in key town centre locations across Somerset.

Sergeant Charmaine Dyne, Early Intervention Team, Avon and Somerset Police who is leading on this project said: "While Somerset remains a safe place to live, we recognise the need to engage with young people, parents and guardians and the community as a whole. The partnership has set up Highlight Scheme Youth Hubs with Young Somerset in both Bridgwater and Taunton. The hubs are part of a series of initiatives being put in place in response to young people asking for more information and advice about safety and also how to access youth provision.”

Young people and parents or guardians can visit a Hub whilst in town and find out more. It will offer advice, support and signposting for young people. The Hubs are supported by Safer Somerset Partnership, Avon & Somerset Police, Somerset Council, Bridgwater Town Council, Taunton Town Council, local community networks, and Young Somerset and are currently funded to run until March 2025.

Safer Somerset Partnership has a commitment to reduce violence and create safer communities for all residents. This project has a particular focus on improving safety for children and young people in the county’s vibrant town centres.

Councillor Heather Shearer, chair of the Safer Somerset Partnership, echoed Charmaine's sentiments saying: "We are dedicated to creating safer environments where young people can thrive, and we do this best when we work together with our community partners and listen to what young people are telling us."

This plan, informed by local consultation with young people, businesses, and organisations, as well as national best practice, encompasses various initiatives. These include establishing community points for advice, conducting education sessions in local schools, providing training for professionals working in the areas, and increasing the presence of community guardians during peak times.

A national survey by the Youth Endowment Fund underscored the prevalence of violence among young people, with 16% reporting being victims and 44% witnessing violent incidents in the past year.

Building on this research, Somerset Violence Reduction Partnership conducted its own survey, engaging over 1,300 young people in Bridgwater and Taunton town centres. The findings highlighted concerns about safety and an uncertainty among them of what they should do about it. The partnership is a collaborative effort aimed at reducing violence and creating safer communities for all residents, with a particular focus on safeguarding children and young people.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to engage in conversations with their children about safety. Key messages include spotting the signs of risky behaviour, having a plan to distance oneself from potential harm, and the importance of speaking out when witnessing concerning situations.

The Bridgwater Hub is run from 4pm to 6pm on Fridays in Coffee#1, Fore Street, and the Taunton Hub is run from 3pm to 5pm on Saturdays in McDonalds, East Street. Anyone with concerns about violence, in any location, is encouraged to report it to the police by calling 101, or in an emergency 999. They can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. For more information: Town centre safety and young people (