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News Blue bus re-educates drinkers

PEOPLE found drunk and inca- pable in Maidstone at night are being given the opportunity to take part in a restorative process to educate them about the dangers of excessive drinking. As part of a new initiative, police officers have been taking the details of people who are found to be drunk and incapable in the town centre and in need of medical assis- tance. At a later date they have been contacted and offered the opportu- nity to work on the town’s Urban Blue Bus for a shift as a volunteer as an alternative to prosecution. The Urban Blue Bus provides respite and treatment in Maidstone

THE Princess Project has opened a help centre for new mums in Park Wood. The organisation, set up in 2011, provides support for mums, par- enting courses and Totcycle – a popular exchange service for baby and toddler goods. Maidstone Mayor Cllr Clive Eng-

lish opened the office in Christ Church,WallisAvenue, which will be a base for the charity’s activities, and offer drop-in support for

town centre on Saturday nights for people who have minor injuries or who have alcohol or drug related symptoms. A police spokesman said: “The initiative is intended to help people fully understand the impact that drunken behaviour has and show them first-hand the vulnerable state that drunk people can find them- selves in.” Two women, aged 21 and 25,

who returned to see the volunteers in action said the experience had made them more aware of how al- cohol affected people, and that it was eye-opening to see how many people needed help. One said that her return visit as a

Centre offers help for new mums

mums from 9.30am to 2.30pm, Monday toWednesday. Emma Tanner, the Christian group’s chief executive, said: “As well as space for parents to chat to our team of friendly volunteers,we want to make this a child-friendly space, too, so that the little ones can be entertained whilst their parents or carers get the help and advice they need.” For more on The Princess Project

volunteer made her feel useful, to make up for the time that she had taken up when she needed treat- ment. The scheme underwent a five-

week trial before being imple- mented permanently in the town centre.

Inspector Jody Gagan-Cook from

Kent Police said: “This initiative is very much around educating peo- ple to try and change their behav- iour. The Urban Blue Bus is a fantastic facility and we have in- vited people to come and see the amount of work that is put in by both volunteers and police to keep them safe, instead of simply prose- cuting them.

“We hope this education will

help people and prevent them from finding themselves in a situation again where they need treatment.” District commander, Ch Insp

Simon Wilson said: “People who allow themselves to get extremely drunk in the town centre leave themselves vulnerable ... and can become complacent about looking after their personal safety and valu- able property, such as mobile phones or purses. “We are not afraid to prosecute people for alcohol-related offences in the town, but if we can stop the offences occurring in the first in- stance, through education, that benefits everyone.”

Rev Arthur Houston with Princess Project trustees and volunteers. Online

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