Volunteering through the pandemic
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Merseyside Police is made up of a number of dedicated officers and staff, some of which either volunteer for the force or volunteer outside of the organisation (both, alongside their day jobs!).
This month we have already celebrated our Special Constables, so now we thought it was time to recognise the various other volunteers who form Merseyside Police.
Those who volunteer outside of the force include Alexandra Galvin, who is a Data Analyst, but also volunteers for Merseyside Water Rescue - a local charity set up over 2 years ago to prevent the loss of life in/around the water through drowning or cold water shock. She says: “We operate 7 days a week and support at large scale events including the Liverpool Homecoming Parade and the River of Light Festival. I first found out about the charity in February 2019 when I was 8 months pregnant – that meant that I couldn’t safely go out as an operational team member, but there were always other ways I could utilise my skills. I was asked to take on the role of Social Media Manager which meant I was also able to carry out my day job with Merseyside Police.
“Despite my partner and I both being full-time keyworkers, now with a young child, we really enjoy supporting the charity which provides an essential service to the public. It is a very friendly and inclusive team, and there is a role for everyone - some members had with no prior marine/Search & Rescue experience and have since developed significant skills though training and development, others are already immersed in the industry so there is always something we can learn from each other.
“Doing this role is not an easy task, each volunteer puts themselves in danger when out on the water whilst trying to protect the public who may find themselves in the water, whether deliberately or by accident. We are however always fully equipped and trained to retrieve that person through the provision of search and rescue techniques as well as delivering first aid. Being a volunteer for Merseyside Water Rescue is very rewarding and I love seeing the positive impact the charity has had upon the area.”
Fiona Shorthouse, an Enquiry Officer Supervisor by day, volunteers as a Sergeant Instructor with Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force! She says: “I have been a part of the organisation since 2015 and I absolutely love my role. I initially started the role as I wanted to get involved with the young people in the community to help make a difference and maybe steer them in a better direction.
“I am directly responsible for training 30 cadets in areas including Shooting, Field craft, Drill, Military Knowledge and Expedition. I also really enjoy going away with the cadets at weekends to training camps where they get the chance to put their skills to the test. I am very passionate about my role with the Cadet Force, so much so that I received a Commendation from the Commandant for my dedication to the organisation.”
Mark Hobin not only patrols the street as a Police Constable, he volunteers as the Chairman of Portico Vine Amateur Rugby League Club (ARLFC). The club, which consists of over 200 members, is a community club, run entirely by volunteers based on Scholes Lane, St Helens. He says: “Our volunteers work in partnership with the parents and carers of our young people to provide an environment that coaches, manages, supports, encourages and develops our rugby community and club.
“At the very heart of our club is our aim to provide as many life-enhancing opportunities as we can for our young people, broadening their horizons, raising their aspirations and ambitions, improving self-confidence and self-esteem, supporting their development as well as ensuring that they enjoy taking part in physical activity and instil a love of being active, creating a healthier community.
“Since becoming Chairman in 2018, I have developed partnerships locally and Internationally, most notably joining forces with the Great Britain Rugby League Police team, of which our Chief Constable is the Chairman. This has allowed close relationships to be formed with serving Police Officers and Police Staff within Merseyside who have supported our children’s progress and presented training sessions and inputs on knife crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour. Further afield, we have twinned with Vancouver Dragons, a rugby team in Canada and the Jamaican Rugby League Association to market our club further.
“Our most recent community project as seen us become the first club in the country to set up ‘Souper League’. We contacted all major manufacturers and retailers of soup (Heinz, Cross and Blackwell, Baxters, Tesco) to explain our idea of supporting the less fortunate in our community. We organised and collected over 4000 tins of soup and redistributed them to several local charities and foodbanks within Merseyside. This has been recognised throughout the professional sport now.
“With Covid-19 bringing our playing time to a temporary close, the club have been keeping all members involved with interactive activities such as online quiz nights, challenges to complete at home and continuing to build our clubhouse project. I have been working closely with our Child Welfare Team to ensure the continued safety of our players during lockdown.”
We also have a large volunteer network inside the force including Adam Slocombe who is a Cadet Leader. He says: “From a young age, I had always been fascinated in becoming a police officer and I believe that through the Cadet programme I have been able to gain valuable experience, more confidence in myself and my abilities, leadership and team working skills.
“I have learnt many different skills by working alongside the Community Engagement Team, Road Policing Unit and CSI and have taken part in policing many events including Liverpool Pride, Knowsley Flower Show and deployments focused around Halloween and Bonfire Night.
“I love being a volunteer for Merseyside Police because it has shown me that officers will do anything to protect the public and each other and I hope that by becoming a Cadet Leader, I can further enrich my knowledge of the force and serve the Merseyside community.”
Gary Doran is a volunteer Fraud Fighter – he contacts victims of fraud, provides reassurance and advice, signposts to support agencies and does his own investigative work to try and better understand the magnitude of fraud in Merseyside and what scams are currently circulating in the community. He says: “Volunteering and giving my services to an organisation for free was something, sadly, I had never thought about doing until recently. I suppose I had been preoccupied with looking after my family and myself, rather than looking at the broader issues in community life and what I could personally do to make it a better society we live in.
“However, volunteering has given me a chance to do something for others that are more vulnerable than myself. I wanted to make victims feel that they were cared about and protected and volunteering enabled this.
“I had been a call taker for Cheshire Police and had received a wide range of callers requesting assistance and support for various reasons. One common complaint from the public was fraudulent activities where they felt they had been targeted. Quite a large portion of these callers were the elderly and vulnerable people. After some initial investigation and assurance I could only refer them to Action Fraud. I always felt a little redundant after this point, giving them this information and wondered how they got on after the call was finished. This is mainly why I wanted to volunteer for ‘fraud fighters’ to see what work actually goes on in resolving fraud, safeguarding the individual and educating them.
“Since volunteering I have had a boost to my self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. A great feeling that you are doing ‘good’ for others and the community, which provides you with a natural sense of accomplishment.”
Liz Jones, a retired Exams Coordinator now prides herself as being a Police Support Volunteer in the Southport Enquiry Office. She says: “It seems like yesterday I started my volunteering at Southport Police Station - time flies when you’re enjoying yourself! I started volunteering after I retired from my job as an Exams Coordinator for The English Speaking Board in March 2005. There was an advert in our local paper for volunteers at Southport Police Station so I applied in the September and started in January 2006.
“I have learned so much from the Enquiry Officers over the years and now feel confident in dealing with the public and trying to help with the many different problems that come through the door. There are many people who come in with obvious mental health issues and I would like to think I am a sympathetic ear to people who just need to talk to someone.”
Sarah Tomlinson, another Police Support Volunteer in the Citizens in Policing Team joined the force in 2017 as a Police Cadet at the age of 17 and has grown in confidence during the past three years, becoming more confident and determined. She says: “I was extremely fortunate to have stumbled across this programme unbeknownst to the amazing impact that it would have on my life. As a cadet I participated in many community events, engaged with members of the public, and had many incredible opportunities to take part in activities such as dragon boat racing, sponsored walks, camping, completing my silver DofE, and participating in interactive lessons including site visits, guest speakers and lessons, providing a great insight into the force.
“After graduating the cadet programme, I discovered that volunteering was a passion of mine, it gave me a sense of fulfilment, purpose and identity, so I decided that I wanted to progress to become a cadet leader. Following this role, I then became a volunteer staff member helping to organise, plan and run the cadet programme. This has given me a greater sense of appreciation and understanding for the work that goes into running this fantastic programme. It is a privilege of mine to now help shape the future of these young individuals’ lives just like it did for me.
“Recently, amid the global pandemic of Covid-19, I offered my assistance to departments who were struggling for resources and staff members. I was grateful to have been offered the chance to assist with Merseyside Police’s HR department. It was vital for the department that applications for various police roles were still being processed under their high demand and since I was in a fortunate position to be able to help I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure the effective running of the force. This is now my journey at present and I look forward to what awaits me next.”
These are but a few of the volunteers who work within Merseyside Police and we value the hard work and dedication each of them offers.
Volunteers make up a really important part of our society as well as our police force and their work is extremely valuable to allowing us to care for the public and support operational officers and staff.
Thank you to each and every one of you!