What a busy first month as High Sheriff it has been and what a great privilege it is to be so warmly welcomed everywhere! I have found lots of connections with my broad focus of stronger communities and this seems to be a priority in many areas, with an increasing recognition of the importance of involving people in local issues by getting to know communities to learn about their needs. There is work across the county on interfaith and integration and an appetite to engage with these issues at a time when the world is especially troubled by faith or culture related violence. Here is a little flavour of what I have been up to.
I have met informally with the judges in St Albans Crown court and look forward to supporting them in my traditional role as the Queen’s representative in all matters relating to the judiciary. I plan to bring guests to the courts to talk around some of the issues that result in the cases before the judges and to invite them to see the judges at work too. In Watford I gained an insight into the workings of the Family Court, meeting judges and magistrates involved in difficult family cases.
I have also spent time with the Hertfordshire Constabulary to learn about initiatives around community engagement and feedback, neighbourhood policing and hate crime. I hope that I can support this work as it fits well with my themes. I have also met with the Police Chaplains who do great work offering fellowship and compassion to all. It was a privilege to join the Chief Constable in giving out Long Service and Commendations Awards.
The Police and Crime Commissioner, his Deputy and Assistant Commissioner have all given me time to talk about victim support and knife crime in particular. I have also been learning about the Coroner’s Service and the Local Resilience Forum, the Witness service and probation service.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue gave me a great tour of their Stevenage site and I went up 45 m in the Aerial Lift Platform, visited the control centre and rode in a fire engine. As well as saving lives and helping keep us safe, they do great community outreach work and support many local events. One of these is the Princes Trust Team Programme where I met young participants.
I heard moving stories at the Herts Welcomes Syrian Families AGM. The Syrian families are learning English and want to give back to the country that accepted them. They need volunteers to help practise English (especially men) and employment opportunities. A young man called Amr said ‘I dedicate my life and efforts to this country that accepted us’.
Civic events have included a lunch in Broxbourne and a service in Welwyn. I have also been to the Old Bailey for lunch with city of London Sheriff, Liz Green, and sat in court after.
It was a privilege to watch a Citizenship ceremony and see 25 people become British nationals. They came from all over the word and will now be proudly British. Many had been in this country for many years, contributing to our society in different ways.