From the blog

Being a Street Ranger is easy right? Wrong. I found out the hard way!

BY HELEN DODMAN

Street Rangers are a vital asset to Ipswich town centre. We see them in their familiar red and black uniforms, impotent patrolling the streets, but do we really know what they do? I didn’t think so, so I spent the day with the team to see just what they cram in to a day to keep Ipswich safe and clean. Here I detail what it was like to be a Street Ranger for the day.

My normal day starts around 8.30am when I arrive at the office, chat with colleagues about any news and issues there may be in the town, peruse the local papers and news feeds for what’s going on and check our social media feeds for anything people may be asking about. Not on #RangerDay.

I’m in before 8am ready to be out on the streets bang on the hour. Thankfully I have my comfortable shoes on as the first job of the day is to walk around the BID zone to check everything is OK since they left the day before. The area looks manageable on the map I have on my office wall. It seems a lot bigger on foot.

For most people, walking around this area might take a while, but for a Street Ranger, this task takes a lot, lot longer. As they walk by a number of shops, staff are getting ready to open so they pop over to say hello and have a chat about how things are going with them. They know everyone in town. As we walk along the high street there are several shouts of ‘hello’ and ‘how are you today’. I feel like I’m out with a celebrity.

All Street Rangers in Ipswich carry radios so they can easily be contacted by businesses and the police when needed. It’s not long before the first call comes in and we’re running up the road to one of our larger stores to assist with a theft.

This is a role that many may not realise our Street Rangers carry out. Often, because of their central location, they can be on the scene before the police. Our Street Rangers also keep records of incidents like this to gain a picture of what’s going on in the town. I think we’ll be there for about ten minutes and an hour later we’re still in the store dealing with the situation.

Once we’re finished it’s almost time to head in for lunch and we start to wander back to the office. We’re stopped by a lovely couple with a map of the town who look rather lost and we help then on their way to the bus stop they’re looking for. There’s no thinking time needed for the Street Rangers. They know the town so well that they simply reel off direction and off they go.

After a quick lunch break we take a trip to a few businesses in town to update them on the work of Ipswich Central and ask for their feedback on how their business is doing and the town in general. These meetings, although not too long at around half an hour, take place with every businesses in the BID zone on a regular basis so we can keep track of what’s going on in the town. It’s important for us to be in regular contact with businesses and engage in two-way conversations with them so everyone knows what’s going on in the area. After three of these visits, two hours have passed but they’ve been two hour well spent. Back out on to the streets we go.

My legs ache as if I’ve just completed a marathon and a quick check on my phone tells us we’ve walked almost 12km as we near the end of the day. I’ll never moan about sitting behind a desk again!

Before I know it, we’re heading in for the day and we’re met by another person asking for directions and the Street Rangers are only too happy to help, even though it delays them getting home for another 15 minutes.

Spending the day with the team has been a real eye opener for me. On most days, I’ll ask Street Rangers to pop in somewhere and hand out a booklet we’ve produced or ask businesses for offers to include in the next one. On the odd occasion this won’t happen as quickly as I would have hoped and it’s frustrating that tasks aren’t completed. However, having been out with the team I now understand why my requests aren’t carried out immediately. They can’t walk more than 100 meters without being stopped or called to an incident to help someone.

My day has really helped me appreciated what they do and what they bring to the town. Next time I won’t get so annoyed with them when they say they haven’t managed to do something. It’s not because they don’t want to. It’s because they’ve simply been doing their job.

Follow @IpsCentral on Twitter and experience #RangerDay once a month.