By Dr Julie Llewelyn - High Sheriff of Surrey 2021-22

Following the theme of ‘Every child included’ with the focus on keeping our young people in school by providing them with the right support at the right time my first visit was to Spelthorne. Spelthorne has significant pockets of deprivation alongside some much more affluent areas. Returning to school following the pandemic is posing a very significant challenge for many young people who did not fully engage with online learning during the lockdowns. ThamesMead school in Shepperton is leading the way in the Borough with their Inclusion Unit where they work with their students to identify issues early and make sure they have the support they need. Early intervention is key to prevent all sorts of bigger school related issues happening later.

If a young person hasn’t had the early help they need and starts to miss a lot of school they often fall into antisocial behaviour and become involved with county lines. The local Youth Engagement Officier and the team at the Family Services are really busy doing all they can to help these young people and demand is enormous as Surrey emerges from the pandemic.

I met up with Woking Borough Divisional Commander Inspector Dave Bentley last week for an update on the local challenges and a nice walk down the Basingstoke Canal.

It was very encouraging to see that the overall crime in Woking has fallen by nearly 15%, however the Anti-social behaviour, which also includes the Coronavirus incidents, are also recorded, and ASB has risen by 33%. Thankfully hate crime has fallen by 8% and residential burglary has fallen by 25% (some of the reason being people re working from home), but sadly the domestic violence rate has risen by 7%. Woking Police has recovered over 13% of Bicycle theft, which against national bike theft has increased by 27%.

Having spent this year as a High Sheriff whilst still under strict limitations, it has been truly incredible to see the good work carried out by Surrey Police across the county which has been challenging on many fronts and for that we will be grateful. Thanks to you David and your team, for keeping our region safe!

Jo-Ann Airikkala, HRH The Countess of Wessex and Sangeeta Patel.

I would like to mention Jo-Ann Airikkala and Sangeeta Patel, who is the outreach Manager for Woking Asian Business Forum. The Forum made a large financial contribution to 'Nourish Our Nurses' an initiative setup by Jo-Ann and her friend Debi Peppin with help from volunteers, providing food boxes from their base at Bishopgate School in Englefield Green, who have also provided use of a minibus since last march. Over £80K has been raised with nearly 7000 fruit and veg boxes provided to the NHS including hospitals, Ambulances and key workers in Surrey. Woking Asian Business Forum was approached, as 'Nourish Our Nurses' had run out of funding and Jo-Ann wanted to ensure at least the project ran to a full anniversary.

WABF made a financial contribution and Sangeeta Patel volunteered in packaging along with HRH The Countess of Wessex.

Jo-Ann said "It was a pleasure to welcome back HRH The Countess of Wessex to help volunteering with 'Nourish our Nurses.' The Countess, once again helped our cause, lifting and packing with our other volunteers. We were delighted she was able to join our dedicated team again as we support the community and local NHS workers."

Food boxes were also delivered across Surrey and I had the pleasure in my role as High Sheriff and Chairman of Woking Asian Business Forum, of joining the amazing volunteers in helping Woking Hospital to unload and deliver food boxes to key workers.

Sangeeta said "We were very pleased to support these fantastic initiatives and we learnt from Jo-Ann and her colleagues commitment, turning up at 2am, at Western Market, to purchase all the goods. We thank all of them on behalf of the Surrey County for their valuable time and commitment"

HRH The Countess of Wessex with Sangeeta, Jo-Ann and Volunteers delivering food boxes to Woking Hospital.