Victory Housing Trust tenants given help to deal with anti-social behaviour

Victory Housing Trust chief executive John Archibald

Victory Housing Trust chief executive John Archibald - Credit: Archant

Someone's bad parking blocks you in, a neighbour plays their music too loud, rowdy youths loiter near your home, you see someone chuck litter in the street - all awkward situations which could escalate into aggression and violence if you waded in and handled it badly.

Now national charity Dfuse is preparing to launch a project in north Norfolk aimed at teaching social housing tenants how to defuse potentially angry confrontations.

The charity will launch a website for tenants next month which will include filmed 'Neighbourhood Niggles' - scenarios of five ugly situations - giving advice on how to deal with them most effectively.

And Dfuse has just been given a £5,000 grant from the Norfolk Community Foundation to take on a community worker who will go out to women's groups, scouts, and any other community organisation which would like to learn tips and techniques to avoid conflict.

Matt Overd, director of programme development with Dfuse, said: 'Victory's tenants are fairly widespread between elderly and young people, and this can lead to a clash of lifestyles.

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'We are non judgmental and show people on both sides of a situation how to deal with it.

'The most important thing is don't do what comes spontaneously which is usually an explosion of anger or outrage.

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'We ask people to get their head into a 'defusing place' where they are going to take the heat out, have a measured conversation with someone and defuse the situation. We ask them what they want to achieve, and is it realistic? We also teach people how to assess risk,' said Mr Overd.

'There are simple ways of taking down anger - don't give orders. Nobody likes being told what to do. You have to try and feel empathy for the other person and appeal to their rational side.'

Dfuse, which has been operating since 2007, had worked with Thames Valley Police in the past and results had shown that people's confidence about managing conflict and challenging anti-social behaviour (ASB) had increased.

In one case a man who had suffered regular bouts of youths throwing stones at his house had used his Dfuse training to talk to the culprits and explain the effect it was having on him.

It had resulted in the youths leaving him in peace - and no more phone calls to the police.

Victory Housing Trust chief executive John Archibald said the Victory Charter, developed and approved by residents, included two promises about investing in tackling ASB.

Victory's own small, dedicated ASB team worked closely with North Norfolk District Counci and the police.

'Serious instances of ASB are fortunately rare in north Norfolk, but low-level problems can still be very distressing and we have found that often residents feel ill equipped to respond to and deal with low-level problems' he said.

'We hope the resources developed (by Dfuse) will help equip people to more effectively handle difficult and challenging situations safely.'

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