Last week I visited Parkfield Equine Solutions, a West Sussex-based charity who deliver the world-renowned work of The Horse Course. Their programme welcomes young people who are facing a variety of issues including mental health difficulties, ADHD or those who are at risk of offending.
I was delighted to award them £4,750 from the latest tranche of my Safer in Sussex Community Fund and it was wonderful to see, first-hand, how the funding is making a difference and to watch how effective their innovative support programmes are.
Parkfield Equine Solutions say they’re there for ‘when talking isn’t working’. They usually work with participants who have been referred to them by partners such as social services, schools, youth charities or police early intervention programmes and, often, the participants have previously struggled with talk-based therapies like counselling.
On my visit, I met young people who were taking part in the charity’s flagship course ‘Restart’. It’s a 5 day, 1-to-1 equine-assisted intervention and includes children and young people working with the horses through a variety of agility type obstacles. Participants are guided by trained staff members and volunteers to practice 8 core skills including calmness, focus, communication and empathy.
Terri Martinus, the CEO of Parkfield Equine Solutions, told me that 8 out of every 10 young people they work with will perform better in school and foster better relationships with friends and family as a result. It is vital we have services providing less conventional options for those who are struggling. We know if people can’t access support that works for them, they face a higher chance of experiencing social isolation and this can lead to them being more vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime.
Funding awarded to 16 services supporting victims and witnesses of crime
In my role as Police & Crime Commissioner, I am provided with funding from the Ministry of Justice to support local services who work with victims and witnesses of crime.
I established my Safe Space Sussex Funding Network in 2018, inviting eligible services to apply for a grant of up to £20,000. The grants can be used to build on their existing work, increase training programmes, advance their technology, hire additional staff or buy essential equipment needed to provide the best support possible for those who need their services.
A large part of their funding application asks how they work with partners to provide support to victims who may have multiple vulnerabilities and how they exchange knowledge across specialisms. This includes how services work with Sussex Police as well as mental health services and our county councils.
I have now awarded my most recent round of funding within the Network. Over £250,000 has been given to a range of organisations offering tailored support in Sussex including: LGBTQ+ services; stalking awareness organisations; programmes that deliver support for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse; as well as support for elderly survivors of crime; and development of training for staff focusing on child sexual exploitation.
All the services that have been awarded funding display dynamic and innovative approaches, thereby strengthening the effective support we are able to offer across the county and reaching people most in need of help.
You can read more about my Safe Space Funding Network and the organisations who have received financial grants on my website.
Finally, 1-7 June is Volunteers Week. We’ll be highlighting the work of our Independent Custody Volunteers, our Restorative Justice volunteers and mediation services on our social media throughout next week. You will be able to read more about the week and how important volunteers are to the work of my office and Sussex Police in my next newsletter.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner