I read an article recently that said 10 million UK adults have been volunteering in their community during the coronavirus crisis, and that most say they will carry on after the lockdown ends.
I thought this figure was incredible given that these selfless volunteers, while faced with the same challenges as everyone else, still found time to help others at a time of need.
National Volunteers Week launched last week, providing an opportunity to say thank you to the millions of volunteers across the UK who make such a valuable contribution to their local communities.
It also gave North East Division a chance to say another thank you to all our volunteers – Special Constables (SPCs), adult and youth volunteers – for the support and commitment they have shown to the force over the past year, particularly during our response to the Covid-19 crisis.
As the demands and challenges associated with the pandemic became clear, hundreds of SPCs proactively got in touch to pledge more hours of service on the frontline and between April 2020 and the end of March this year, they collectively deployed for more than 93,000 hours across Scotland.
In the north-east alone, they deployed for almost 12,800 hours – a significant increase on the previous year, and the highest number of any police division in the country.
Our Special Constabulary is a part-time, volunteer body consisting of voluntary officers with identical powers to that of regular police officers.
As a SPC you work alongside our regular police officers in your spare time forging strong partnerships in the community, patrolling our streets, preventing crime, and keeping your local community safe.
Anyone is eligible to apply as long as they satisfy some basic requirements for the role, but ultimately we are always looking for people who want to make a real difference and can bring a fresh perspective to the team they work in.
Our SPCS are a vital asset all year round and, in a time of national crisis, they selflessly stepped up to support Scottish policing and provide reassurance to the communities we serve.
Meanwhile, although our Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYVs) were restricted in their activities during the pandemic, they continued to keep in touch with their coordinators and actively supported their police colleagues and other keyworkers from home, creating ‘Clap for Carers’ videos and fundraising for local charities.
Our young volunteers are slowly – and safely – starting to deploy again and I know I speak on behalf of all at Police Scotland when I say we are delighted to see them all back. We are always open to applications from young people aged 13 to 17 who want to become a PSYV and do something positive in their communities.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in heartache for so many, however it has been inspiring to see so many volunteers step up and respond to calls for help from their local communities.
They are our everyday heroes.
For more information on how to sign up as a volunteer, visit the Police Scotland website.