Using Facebook to keep the community informed

TRADITIONAL monthly meetings and Facebook groups might seem worlds apart, but these are the methods two Carmarthenshire communities are using to keep their neighbours safe.

As part of Neighbourhood Watch Week, the long-standing Glanmor group and the newer Llwynhendy and Pemberton group have shared the secrets to their success – be it through old-school meetings or the reach of social media.

Jason Hart helped to set up the Llwynhendy and Pemberton Neighbourhood Watch group last summer following a spate of burglaries in the area. Although he admits it was slow to get off the ground using traditional means, the launch of a Facebook group saw the scheme take off.

“We still hold monthly meetings, but we found we have more of an impact on social media,” he said. “We set the Facebook group up and had over 400 members in a couple of weeks.

“A lot of people who work or who have children can’t make it to our meetings, so for them a Facebook group is ideal.”

Members are approved before joining, and can then post on the group’s timeline. Mr Hart explained that it gives people the opportunity to raise issues or concerns if they are unable to attend the evening meetings.

“They post about things like suspicious vehicles in the area, or if they have seen someone trying car doors, and we will then report it to the police,” he said. “We also feed in information from the police if something has happened, and people let us know if they have seen or heard anything.”

The success of the group is such that people living in the neighbouring community of Bryn have asked for it to expand.

Mr Hart said: “We will invite them to come along to our meetings to see how it works, and if there is enough interest they can break off and form their own group. It’s great that people think it’s working and want to see it covering their area too.”

Meetings are held from 5pm at the Bryn and Trallwm Social Club on the third Tuesday of the month, and the Facebook group can be found by searching Llwynhendy and Pemberton Neighbourhood Watch.

Over on the other side of Llanelli is the longstanding Glanmor Neighbourhood Watch group, which has been running for the past 17 years. The watch covers Nelson Terrace, Richmond Terrace, Llys yr Orsaf, Llys y Gof and part of Bryn Road, does not use social media and stands by the routine of monthly meetings.

Group coordinator John Jones said: “We had a lot of trouble in the area at that time, and everyone was complaining to me as I was a magistrate. We decided that the best way forward was to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme so people could meet regularly and discuss any problems in the community.

“It went from there, and we are still going 17 years later.

“The number of people who attend depends on what problems there are each month, but there is a core membership who always comes along. We aim to deal with issues straight away.”

Meetings are held at The Cambrian, in Marine Street, at 6.30pm on the first Monday of the month – unless it is a bank holiday, when it will be held the following Monday.

Sergeant Dawn Fencot-Price, of the Dyfed-Powys Police Crime and Harm Reduction Team, said: “We would like to thank both Neighbourhood Watch groups for their support in keeping our communities safe.

“It is great to see people working together in this way, sharing crime prevention messages and looking out for each other.

“We are always looking for innovative ways of keeping our communities safe. If you’re interested in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group, or have an idea you think might work in your area, contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.”

Pic: West Midlands Police

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