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John Ullathorne

Police support volunteer, Durham

My role is to help spread messages about road safety and to highlight the importance of safe driving.  I worked with others in the force and in the local community to launch CURSI, and we take our messages to local schools and groups. We also organise staged training events, setting up lifelike road traffic collisions with the Ambulance & Fire Service to educate young people in road and traffic safety, including issues such as the dangers of drink driving or using mobile phones.

Why did you become a police support volunteer? Because I am a tanker driver, my driving skills are advanced and I have a real passion for road safety.  I made some complaints to my local council and the police about dangerous drivers in my area and felt that more should be done to enforce safe driving. My local police sergeant laid down the gauntlet in response and said “if you think you can do better, come and join us” – so I did.

What skills do you bring to the role and what does your work involve? I am a volunteer road safety coordinator in the new Community United in Road Safety Initiative (CURSI).

The work I do for the Constabulary is all about road safety, so my skills and experience from being a professional driver for 16 years, 12 of which were in the Royal Air Force, have been a big help.

My role is to help spread messages about road safety and to highlight the importance of safe driving.  I worked with others in the force and in the local community to launch CURSI, and we take our messages to local schools and groups. We also organise staged training events, setting up lifelike road traffic collisions with the Ambulance & Fire Service to educate young people in road and traffic safety, including issues such as the dangers of drink driving or using mobile phones.

What have you gained from being a volunteer? I’ve improved some of my computer skills such as Microsoft Powerpoint, which I use for various presentations. My confidence and interpersonal skills have also grown significantly by spending so much time out and about speaking with a variety of people.

What is the reality of volunteering like compared to what you had expected? I would say that it is harder work than I had expected, but it’s also been great to see the rewards of our efforts. We can really see the difference our team is making within the Stanley area by encouraging all road users to be more aware of the importance of road safety.

What is your proudest achievement as a volunteer? I’m extremely proud that we have made CURSI a reality.  We launched it with two presentations, one with our Mini Police youth group and one on drink drive awareness with year 10 students at North Durham Academy. We can really see the impact our words and demonstrations are having on these people and hope that it sinks in and leaves them with the knowledge they need to become safe road users.

What is the best thing about volunteering? Working with a professional organisation that does all it can to encourage and support its volunteers in the best way possible.  With this support, we’re able to make a bigger impact on the communities we’re working in.

What’s the biggest challenge? The biggest challenges are around the processes we have to go through. It can take frustrating amounts of time to get volunteers vetted, but it is understandable that this is something that has to be done.  In the current era of budget cuts, it’s also harder to get equipment for our team members so we have to find other ways of raising funds, which we have a lot of support in.

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for the police? Volunteering is a great opportunity for young and older people to gain knowledge of the policing world and to interact with the local community. Our team has a fantastic atmosphere and like all volunteering teams, we’re always looking to expand our experience and knowledge with new team members so would encourage anyone to think about applying.

 

 

 

 

 

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