National Volunteers Week celebrates the wonderful contribution of volunteers across Britain and is an ideal opportunity for us to thank our volunteers for the hard work they have delivered over the last year.
This week we’ll be showcasing some of our great volunteers and their contribution as Special Constables, police staff volunteers or cadets on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Stephen O’Connell is one of our award-winning volunteers. As a Community Speedwatch (CSW) volunteer, he is motivated by a desire to save lives. He started out with us on his local streets in Seaford. But six years on, Stephen has made an impact county-wide, having trained a network of over 1,000 CSW volunteers across Sussex. In that time Sussex has seen an 8 percent drop in recorded speeding violations in that period.
At the same time Stephen’s training of the CSW volunteers ensures that motorists who are stopped are treated fairly and with respect at the roadside.
His approach, which is being replicated by other forces, recently earned Stephen a commendation from Chief Constable, Giles York, and he was presented with a Lord Ferrers Award for volunteering in policing in 2018.
Stephen, who will soon be joining us in a staff role, shares what drives him: “I find volunteering very rewarding. It’s been a great way to use my HR and management experience and skills to make a real difference to communities.
“But the greatest reward is knowing I am helping to reduce death and injuries on the roads of Sussex.”
Volunteer Stephen O'Connell: "What motivates me is the desire to save lives"
Special Constable Julie Rainey has a busy full-time job as regional communications manager for the RNLI, but that doesn’t stop her devoting her weekends to volunteering with us.
She plays an active role in our specialist Safeguarding Investigations Unit, protecting the most vulnerable individuals from harm and exploitation. Having worked for the National Crime Agency and HMIC, Julie brings valuable knowledge. Her dedication to ‘going above and beyond’ in this demanding role recently won her an award for services to public protection.
“To be able to support victims at what is often the most difficult time of their life is a genuine privilege,” reflects Julie.
“Volunteering in policing has given me a much greater understanding of the lives of other people,” says Julie. “You come to realise both how fortunate you are and also how difficult life can be."
As well as working a seven day week, Julie finds time to run, cycle and swim in the sea every morning.
“Our lives are pretty short in the grand scheme of things,” says Julie, “And I’m keen to do as many useful and interesting things as I can, while I can.”
“I strongly recommend finding the time to volunteer. Being part of something bigger which ties you to your community is a great feeling. Do it!”
Julie's valuable contribution to supporting public protection was recognised in May 2019
Volunteer Week is also an opportunity to celebrate our 190 police cadets.
This year we say a special thank you to Brighton teenager Emily Mabbott, who, as cadet to the High Sheriff of East Sussex 2018-2019, served as an excellent youth ambassador for the police.
She took on the role, age 18, while still doing her A’ Levels and working part-time in a supermarket. Joining former High Sheriff, Major General John Moore-Bick, she supported community groups and emergency services, as well as representing Sussex in Remembrance Day celebrations.
She is now looking forward to starting university in September, having passed on the role to successor, Jamal Chanlewis, in March.
“I strongly recommend volunteering! Meeting volunteers with homeless charities, I saw how well respected and appreciated they were by the street community.
“Being a cadet has helped my self confidence and communication skills and given me invaluable insight with how to deal with people.”
Highlights from Emily Mabbott's year as cadet to former High Sheriff Major General John Moore-Bick
We are also offering new ways for volunteers to work with us as we modernise policing to meet the changing nature of crime. Our online fraud expert, PC Bernie Lawrie, is looking for fraud prevention assistants for a new pilot project throughout West Sussex.
Volunteers will receive training, including in cyber crime and will help protect non-vulnerable fraud victims from further fraud.
Potential candidates can find out more here.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said: “How we work with our Special Constables and police staff volunteers has evolved over the years as the force continues to modernise. We are making the most of the skills they bring by expanding the types of duties and policing areas in which they work with us, such as economic crime, where volunteers can assist us as we respond to the changing nature of fraud.
"Our volunteers provide another layer of resilience and enhance the roles of our police officers and staff for the benefit of members of the community, as public service is at the heart of what we do.
"Police staff volunteers work with our teams, allowing our front line officers to concentrate on their core duties. These roles include custody van drivers, CCTV viewers looking for obstructions, Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub administrators and those involved in dog training and major incident training.
"Our Special Constabulary work alongside our Prevention and Response teams but also in some of our specialist teams capitalising on their existing skills. We have a number of Special Constables working within our tutoring teams as mentors and assessors and a number dedicated to working on public order operations.
"It’s about using a person’s skills in the best way to enhance the service we give to the public.
"Our volunteers are an inspiration to us all as they selflessly give up their time to work with us every day and this should never be taken for granted or indeed overlooked. We are all part of Sussex Police, working together to protect vulnerable people, prevent crime and be there when our communities need us the most. Thank you for your support. You are much appreciated.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am a huge advocate for volunteering, particularly when there are opportunities for local people to get involved in keeping their communities safer.
"National Volunteers week allows us all to recognise the selfless dedication of those who give up their free time to support neighbourhood police teams and police staff.
"Throughout the year, I make sure I meet with different police volunteers to thank them for their service. They are all unique groups of people bringing a wealth of experience and diversity to the force.
"They are an integral cog in the workings of Sussex Police and very much appreciated by their colleagues.
"I would encourage anyone who would like to make a real difference in their community to find out more about the volunteer roles available.”
Author: Jackie Stevens