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On the Beat: The young police volunteers fighting for women’s equality

From left to right, Police Scotland Youth Volunteers Sophie Brebner, Neave Douglas, Carys Stewart, Rhianna Thomson.
From left to right, Police Scotland Youth Volunteers Sophie Brebner, Neave Douglas, Carys Stewart, Rhianna Thomson.

We are Sophie, Carys, Neave and Rhianna and we are members of Police Scotland Youth Volunteers.

We all joined together at the start of 2021 and for a variety of reasons. Some of us wanted to join because we have an interest in becoming police officers, others wanted to develop and work on life skills and we all wanted to be part of helping and giving back to our community.

When we first joined, it was the start of the second lockdown and immediately we went to online meetings, which we found very difficult as we were entering a new group without an easy way to communicate with each other.

Volunteers assisted in litter picking, marshalling and engaging with public

Although meetings weren’t face-to-face, they were still fun and interesting and we were able to have a number of celebrities join our meetings, which made it really engaging and we learned a lot from such a diverse group of people.

As soon as lockdown was lifted we were back to some normality and managed to attend face-to-face weekly meetings. This was surprisingly easier and because of the online meetings we didn’t find it too hard to make new friendships and the weekly team-building sessions helped a lot.

We were also able to start attending volunteering events such as litter picking, marshalling at events and engaging with members of the public. These volunteering events were able to help increase our confidence and communication skills.

During this time we were also able to see how to interact with the public and how to represent ourselves as a member of the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV).

In the summer of 2021, we had the opportunity to go on a residential trip to Dalguise. This was interesting because we were able to meet people from the other PSYV group, as well as make some new friends.

‘We know we are going to be fully supported in our career aspirations’

During our weekend away, we were able to participate in many different activities such as abseiling, canoeing, and raft building. Many of these activities involved teamwork and problem-solving skills, which helped us in gaining some more confidence in taking a leadership role and to express our own individual ideas.

We all have an interest in becoming police officers in the future and so PSYV and positive influences have encouraged us to keep going with this goal.

Our group coordinator and leader, PC Nicola Gillies, has also helped and inspired us in our journey so far by sharing some of her experiences in the Police.

She has shown us that being a woman in policing is possible and we were all so proud when she won an award for leadership in policing.

We have had the pleasure of meeting many female officers and most recently a huge inspiration was finding out about our new first female Divisional Commander, Kate Stephen.

Even in a traditionally male-dominated occupation, we know that we are going to be fully supported in our career aspirations and that it is possible.

March 8 is International Women’s Day and we hope to spread the word to #BreakTheBias, stop the stereotypes and fight for women’s equality.

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