Saturday 21 October 2017

How a free lemonade stall helped this police officer connect with the public

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and talk to a police officer.

A novel way of building trust has sprung up in London (Victoria Melody/PA)
A novel way of building trust has sprung up in London (Victoria Melody/PA)

By Georgia Humphreys and Taylor Heyman

A pilot project to encourage people to talk to local police has had a successful first run in Wandsworth.

On Sunday, the Lemonaid stall served free lemonade to members of the public while giving them the chance to speak to a police officer about any matters or concerns they wished to raise.

Victoria Melody, a 38-year-old artist and theatre maker from Brighton, was paired with PC Abdelatti Mahmoud as part of the Agents of Creative Change programme, run by Battersea Arts Centre.

The programme asks third and public sector workers to come up with a challenge either in their workplace or community and work with an artist to find a solution.

“I decorated the stand to make it look kitsch, fun and accessible, the opposite of a police uniform,” says Melody.

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(Victoria Melody/PA)

More than 200 people visited the stall over the three hours it was open, and questions from the public included: ‘Does your family get scared?’, ‘Why don’t you come on our estate more?’ and ‘Can I see your badge?’

PC Mahmoud  was the police officer fielding all those questions on the day.

He said: “This project gave people who normally would not engage with police an opportunity talk to an officer and find out that they are simply human beings who wear a uniform and have a difficult job to do.

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(Victoria Melody/PA)

“Often people don’t see this human side to police officers. This event offered me an opportunity to talk and listen to people and their concerns; I hope as a result they will take away a more positive view of police.”

Following the success of the Wandsworth Lemonaid stall, the pair are looking for opportunities to expand their idea into other areas.

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