Volunteers ranging from Special Constables and chaplains to custody visitors and cadets have been thanked for their work at a celebration evening. Dyfed-Powys Police hosted its first event honouring its volunteers as part of National Volunteers’ Week as a way of recognising the efforts put in by people across the force area.
As part of the event, four volunteers spoke about their reasons for giving up their time to help the communities they live in.
Special Constable Rosie Davies explained that she had wanted to be a police officer from a young age, with photos from force open days to prove it. Just when she thought it was too late, she learned about the Special Constabulary and decided to apply or she “would never know”.
She never looked back, and within a year had volunteered 300 hours for the Dyfed-Powys Police Special Constabulary.
Peter Stych, a volunteer with Goleudy victim and witness support service, told the room about his 53 years of volunteering, beginning as a Special Constable in Birmingham. For Peter, volunteering brings a range of emotions, but that ultimately he was honoured to be able to help people.
He said: “I feel privileged that people will let me into their lives when they are at their lowest ebb. They let me in and they open up their hearts to me. For that, I feel very humble.”
For Mandy Walker, an independent custody visitor, it was the Brixton riots of 1981 that spurred her on to help others. Living in London at the time, she witnessed the unrest first-hand, and said it changed her life completely.
She said: “Missiles were being thrown at police, petrol bombs were being thrown, setting fire to everything. There was smoke coming into my flat, and the sound of sirens was constant, day and night.”
Following the riots, the Scarman Report was published, recommending the establishment of independent custody visitors, who drop-in on custody units unannounced to check on the welfare of detainees.
Mandy said: “It has changed the lives of detainees, and it has changed me. I have come full circle and am contributing to society through my voluntary work. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do that.”
(Read Mandy’s and Peter’s full stories here: https://www.citizensinpolicing.net/news/ammanford-volunteer-supports-victims-of-crime-for-26-years/ and https://www.citizensinpolicing.net/news/custody-visitor-speaks-of-the-riots-that-changed-her-life/ )
Finally, husband and wife John and Linda Walker spoke of their work as volunteers. Linda revealed that one of her very first postings was to Machynlleth during the search for schoolgirl April Jones in 2012.
“I found it quite intimidating at first to walk into a huge room full of hundreds of officers and volunteers, who were having lunch and resting,” she said.
“It took a lot of nerve to walk up to them and ask them how they were doing, but I’m so glad I did. People need to talk, and they need to share what is going on inside their minds and in their lives.”
Rounding up the evening, Superintendent Robyn Mason, Dyfed-Powys Police’s lead for citizens in policing, said: “It never ceases to amaze me the work our volunteers do day in, day out. It is remarkable how people find the time and energy on top of their everyday lives and day jobs to help us keep our communities safe.
“This event was held to say a huge thank you to our volunteers, and we hope it will become an annual celebration.”