An inspiration to work colleagues

A WOMAN who works with the victims and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour has received a prestigious award. Sarah Brewerton, 39, of Letchworth GC, is a senior anti-social behaviour officer for Stevenage Homes and has been crowned Inspirational Colleagu

A WOMAN who works with the victims and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour has received a prestigious award.

Sarah Brewerton, 39, of Letchworth GC, is a senior anti-social behaviour officer for Stevenage Homes and has been crowned Inspirational Colleague of the Year at the UK Housing Awards by the Chartered Institute of Housing.

The award recognises staff who have inspired those they work with and gone the extra mile to provide an excellent service.

Sarah works to support both victims and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour, to resolve conflict and to build partnerships with Stevenage Borough Council and Stevenage Homes, the police and fire services and community groups which are helping to build stronger, safer communities within Stevenage.


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Sarah, who has a degree in management of anti-social behaviour from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, said: "It's about trying to work with the perpetrators to stop their behaviour and nine times out of 10 there's an underlying issue.

"It involves meeting with the complainers and perpetrators and dealing with mediation. I also get involved with schools and support perpetrators at court. It's about thinking outside the box and dealing with cases on an individual basis.

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"In the past I have sent a man to a Buddhist retreat and taken youths to prison to show them what could happen to them.

"Every day is completely different, from meeting with the police and interviewing a victim of domestic violence to working with a perpetrator coming out of prison.

"The most rewarding part of the job is helping people and in some cases changing their offending behaviour. For example, we have an offender who is in prison with drug and alcohol problems and we have been working with him so he has somewhere to live when he comes out."

One of the things Sarah is most proud of is her involvement with the Witness and Victim Support schemes.

She said: "Witnesses and victims of anti-social behaviour often need someone to talk to in order to off-load their emotions and get advice.

"We refer people to Victim Support and they will send a volunteer to support them and will help them going to court.

"It's worked really well so far and people have said they have got a lot out of it."

Three-and-a-half years ago Sarah was living in a hostel in Baldock with her two children before she was housed by Stevenage Homes.

She said: "People frowned upon me when I was living in a hostel but I decided I wanted to get a job and get on in life.

"It means that when I interview people I don't judge them. I look at them as a person and not at what they have done.

"Anti-social behaviour isn't clear cut. It doesn't always mean someone is doing something wrong because there is often an underlying issue such as housing or school problem or relationship breakdowns.

"It's rewarding if I can help one person, whether a perpetrator or witness.

"Without Stevenage Homes I wouldn't have got this far."

Sarah's work has achieved the respect of colleagues and partners and she has received many letters and phone calls from members of the public to thank her for the positive effects of her interventions.

Speaking about Sarah's success Ted Jones, chairman of Stevenage Homes, said, "Sarah arrived in Stevenage as a single parent, homeless with two small children. Against this background Sarah is a shining example of what can be achieved when you have the strength of character that she displays.

"Sarah truly deserves the award for Inspirational Colleague. She is committed, passionate and has contributed greatly towards the development of our approach to tackling anti-social behaviour. This is a personal achievement for Sarah and an example of the excellence that Stevenage Homes is achieving throughout our services.

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