On Wednesday 20th September, we welcomed over 130 attendees to our National Conference, with guests travelling from across England, Wales and Scotland.

Thank you to our Association Leads, guest speakers, sponsors, Central Support Team and Trustees for taking part in what was a really positive and exciting day.

A series of guest speakers lead discussions throughout the day around a variety of topics. Ian Bretman, Chair of the Neighbourhood Watch Network, opened the day, followed by a video message from the Rt Hon Chris Philp MP, who applauded the work of our volunteers across the country.

Dr Melissa Pepper shared an empowering presentation which looked at the volunteer workforce across the country, the different motivations behind why people choose to volunteer, and the ‘diffusion of benefits’ that volunteering has. Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, Louisa Rolfe, gave an insightful and frank presentation on frontline policing and ‘the new Met for London’, and reflected on the Met’s commitments to improving how it operates, both internally and externally, with a focus on building more trust. This was followed by a panel discussion with John Hayward-Cripps, our CEO, Rebecca Bryant OBE, Chief Executive of Resolve and a Neighbourhood Watch Trustee, Dr Pepper, and Louisa Rolfe.

Melissa Pepper leading a talk      A talk at the Conference      The New Met for London

The four seminars throughout the day were: Are you okay? The bystander project, with Bianca Rembrandt from Hackney Council and Saskia Garner from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust; A Green and Pleasant Land? Why Rural Crime isn’t just a rural problem, with Sam Durham from the National Farmers Union and Claire Wright from the Country Land and Business Association; Young voices on crime and community with Simeon, a young person from Croydon's Youth Service and his worker, Deandra; and A Dartford case study: setting up an association and building a NW community, with Garry Turner, Coordinator for West Hill Watch in Dartford, Kent.

After a delicious lunch sponsored by Berkeley Homes, Mike Douglas from VISAV delivered his reflections on how our Alert system allows dialogue across the country, between Neighbourhood Watch schemes, volunteers, and partners, which is invaluable to the running of our charity. Avi Collins and her colleague from the Policing Outreach Team, South East BCU then joined us, sharing data and insights on diversity in the police force, and how there is still much work to be done on attracting diversity to the police.

After a well-deserved tea and cake break, attendees regrouped in the auditorium to hear closing remarks from Ian Bretman, before the winners of this year’s Volunteer Awards received their prizes and were acknowledged for their hard work and dedication to crime prevention and improving community wellbeing. 

Fairfield Village Awards winners      Samia Supporting Sisters Winner      Peter New Award winner

This was a truly brilliant day, and special thanks go to all our sponsors, the venue, and of course Sandra Bauer for putting together such a successful, positive day.

As Ian said, “Volunteers are at the heart of Neighbourhood Watch.” We couldn’t agree more!