Barnstaple Youth Council chairman is 'an inspiration'

BARNSTAPLE Youth Council chairperson Jessica Parkhouse was one of three North Devon women recipients at the Devon Police Awards of the Year ceremony. Jessica received the Mark Marshall Young Person s Community Award in memory of Mark, a PCSO for Countess

BARNSTAPLE Youth Council chairperson Jessica Parkhouse was one of three North Devon women recipients at the Devon Police Awards of the Year ceremony.

Jessica received the Mark Marshall Young Person's Community Award in memory of Mark, a PCSO for Countess Wear who died while serving with the Territorial Army in Afghanistan. It was presented by Mark's mother, Lynn, and sister Jo.

The citation pointed out that as well as being chairperson of the youth council, Jessica also represents young people in the Barnstaple Alliance and is consulted by the town council on matters affecting young people.

Through these roles she has been instrumental in several successful community projects.

These include a music festival designed to encourage young people to channel their energy into music and performance; an inter-generational community arts project and a heritage arts project run in conjunction with the restoration of a local historic monument.

Through her involvement with the youth council, Jessica organised funding for and encouraged young people to take part in the Tidy our Town initiative. Following consultation with the community, this launched a clean-up of the town with more than 100 helpers.

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She is currently involved in a safety awareness project and is planning a DVD targeted at young people addressing drugs, alcohol and personal safety, which is a joint venture between the Youth Council, Devon Youth Service, Police and Safer North Devon.

Jessica also finds time to volunteer with the St John Ambulance.

The citation continued: "Jessica is an inspiration to both other young people and all members of the community, not least because of the remarkable motivation she shows in putting herself forward, volunteering her time and showing creativity and innovation in finding ways to tackle issues affecting local people of all ages."

The Services to Vulnerable Persons Award went to Detective Constable Michelle Bishop from North Devon.

Michelle started an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of four vulnerable women who were residents at a North Devon Care home.

The investigation was made especially challenging due to the serious disabilities of the victims. One could only communicate by use of special equipment, another could only answer questions by blinking and another could not communicate at all.

The only witness in the case was Japanese and required an interpreter to provide her evidence.

The citation described how she had worked closely with Devon Safeguarding Adults' team, the Intermediary service as well as the Crown Prosecution Service over the following nine months, offering sensitive support to those affected by the crimes and gathering sufficient evidence to secure a series of charges against the suspect.

Following a five-week trial the defendant was found guilty of serious sexual offences against the victims and jailed.

"Her professionalism throughout this lengthy, painstaking and sensitive investigation and her caring, sensitive and compassionate approach to those affected by these crimes, truly raised the banner for all vulnerable people," said the citation. "She has highlighted, through her tireless ambition, that the most vulnerable in our society are not only entitled to justice, but can see justice done if they are given the support they need through the criminal justice process."

An Inspiring Confidence Award was presented to Police Community Support Officer Ade Drury, who is the PCSO for Combe Martin and Ilfracombe College.

The citation said: "She is dedicated to her role and consistently demonstrates an enthusiastic Can Do attitude to her work. She is very highly regarded in the community and among partners and has become very popular within what is a relatively hard to reach community.

"In response to fears about potential bullying of children about to enter Ilfracombe College, Ade arranged for 140 children to take part in workshops involving Year 12 students, designed to allow the older children to consider their behaviour and give confidence to the younger children to empower them against bullies. The event was a great success.

"Ade also set up an anti-social behaviour clinic at the college after she found that she was dealing with young people in the town for incidents of behaviour that she recognised needed intervention, but not prosecution.

Talking to the college staff, she found that these same children were causing problems at school. The clinics were aimed at stopping any anti-social behaviour before it escalated.This initiative has now been rolled out across North Devon and has been cited nationally as good practice.

"Ade consistently demonstrates a high level of motivation and proactivity. Ade is always changing her shifts and rest days to accommodate events and policing operations.

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