A group of volunteers with the Surrey Crime Prevention Society wearing their distinctive green jackets. To get involved

SURREY IN FOCUS: Volunteers the backbone of community safety

‘When you’re engaged in something, you don’t go onto other (negative) things,’ says a member of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society .

The Surrey Crime Prevention Society (SCPS) is a volunteer organization made up of a number of different community-safety focused programs.

Informally started in 1981, the SCPS was incorporated as a registered non-profit society in 1984.

The society is governed by an elected board of directors.

Funding for the society comes from government grants and corporate partnerships, as well as business and individual tax-deductible donations.

Karen Reid Sidhu took over as executive director for the SCPS three years ago.

In her role, she re-branded the society to fit with their community safety-focused programs rather than crime prevention.

Reid Sidhu said the society works with the fire department, bylaw officers, business improvement associations, the Surrey School District, transit police, the Surrey RCMP and other non-profit organizations.

Some of the society’s programs include the Citizens Community Safety Watch program, Community Safety Tours, and the Community Safety Youth Leadership and Mentorship program.

The Community Safety Youth Leadership and Mentorship program is a remarkable initiative, according to Reid Sidhu.

“We give at-risk youth an opportunity to put our jackets on and participate in our programs and nobody knows that they are youth at-risk. They get to interact in a positive way and give back, and learn the importance of being around people who make positive choices.”

SCPS currently has 295 volunteers with 65 more applications waiting to be reviewed, according to Reid Sidhu.

She said about 80 per cent of the volunteers come from all walks of life and ethnicities.

“The fact that we have been able to reach so many individuals from so many diverse, multicultural backgrounds in pretty significant and it reflects the community that we live in.”

Sunny Gill, 21, has been a volunteer with the society since June 2012.

Gill originally checked out SCPS because of his interest in policing and he thought it would be a “good resume builder,” but he realized volunteering could also be a great experience.

“What I do can actually change peoples’ lives, even if it’s just calling something in and helping someone out when others would not do the same.”

Manpreet Athwal, 22, said the SCPS helps out the RCMP.

“The RCMP can’t really do (everything) by themselves if people don’t report, “ Athwal said. “People in our society don’t report crime that we see. Either we don’t have time or we just choose not to.”

Athwal, who has been volunteering with the SCPS since October 2014, thinks more students should look into volunteering.

“When you’re engaged in something, you don’t go onto other (negative) things,” she said. “You’re focused and you’re busy all the time and you have to make the right choices.”

Gill also encourages people to volunteer.

“With all the recent concerns for crime and stuff, I would encourage youth, and not just youth but everybody, just to get out and actually be in the community and see what’s going on and see how they can help,” he said. “Rather than just hearing about it on the news… and not acting on it.”

For more information on how to volunteer with the SCPS, call 604-502-8555.


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