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Recognition for those who give their time to our communities

It’s National Volunteers’ Week 1-12 June (specially extended this year to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations).

We’re running a series of articles celebrating all the amazing people who help their communities stay safe by giving us their time, whether it’s as a Special Constable, Volunteer Police Cadet, Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator, Community Speed Watch member or in one of the varied volunteer roles we have.

We thought we’d like to start by highlighting the volunteer work carried out by many police officers and staff on top of their day job.

There are around 5,000 officers and members of staff in Avon and Somerset and as well as the ‘day job’ helping people stay safe and feel safe, many give up their free time for good causes.

Some raise money for charity – we have dozens of cake bakers, marathon runners and even some who pull fire engines! Others help run our Volunteer Cadet groups, and some give their time to help community organisations keep going.

Here are just a few of our colleagues who continue to put others first after their working day is done.

group of people pulling a fire engine

SERGEANT SEAN UNDERWOOD

Day job: 24/7 patrol team sergeant covering east Bristol

Volunteers as: a Beaver Scout colony leader and a rugby coach for under-sixes

How long for? Sean started coaching his local under-sixes rugby team more than four years ago and became a Beaver Scout leader in May 2014

Why? “I’ve always played rugby and my son wanted to play, but at the time he was too young for the club’s teams – so I started a new team for his age group and have been coaching it ever since.

“When my local Beaver Scout colony’s leader stood down, I offered to stand in for six months to prevent the colony folding. They had 25 children aged between five and eight who loved it and I didn’t want them to miss out – especially as it was the same group I was in at that age.

“Two years on and I’m still doing it! In that time my eldest child moved on and six months afterwards my youngest joined. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the youngsters progressing in rugby , gaining confidence and becoming a real team of friends, while in Beavers I’ve loved seeing shy, timid five-year-olds moving on to cubs and scouts.”

Stand-out moments? “There have been many, many stand-out moments – hence me continuing as they outweigh the tough times!

“The rugby team began with about six children but now we have the biggest squad in the area with 37 on the books last season. We’ve won a few tournaments this year, had some really, really great results and seen some good players come through. More rewarding is seeing the children who have struggled early on turn into great team players and friends. I’m a very proud coach.

“Seeing the Beavers turn into confident, outgoing, friendly children is a massive highlight. We’ve just come back from their first camp – they were sleeping in tents in terrible conditions but they all loved it and were so well-behaved! I’m very proud of them.”

Sergeant Sean Underwood

CHIEF INSPECTOR TINA ROBINSON

Day job: North Somerset Policing Area Commander

Volunteers with: Ablaze Breaking Limits programme in Bristol secondary schools

What is the role? “I go into schools as part of a programme to act as a role model to girls and young women. This can include presenting to a wide group in an assembly or talking with small groups.

“Some of these girls come from very challenging backgrounds, but I talk about both personal and professional life to encourage them that they can have a role in society. I help breakdown the role of a police officer and talk about all the other jobs within the service. I also do 1:1 mentoring before exams and ‘speed interviewing’ with girls and boys to help them understand how they may come across in an interview or work placement

How long for? Two years

Why? “It is really rewarding. At work I don’t get to chat to young people anymore. It’s amazing how chatting up close and personal with them changes their view of the police. We discuss domestic abuse, drug use, bullying – all sorts – and the feedback I have had has been really positive.

“These can be challenging children so I’m never quite sure how receptive they will be but the feedback has always been so nice. It makes me feel good about myself that in a tiny way I may have made a difference to some young person’s life

Stand-out moments? “Knowing that sometimes I’m helping them with a dilemma. Once the year head told me they had never heard a girl speak before she asked me a question. Some of these children have seen the police arrest someone they know and I’m helping them see a different side to policing.

“I’m really proud that I have been nominated for an award at this year’s Ablaze annual event – that’s a real stand-out moment.”

Chief Inspector Tina Robinson

SERGEANT RACHEL CLARK

Day job: Neighbourhood Sergeant based at Frome

Volunteers with: A group of family and friends taking on annual challenges to raise money for charity

How long for? Five years

Why? Rachel’s mother sadly died from leukaemia in May 2011. Each year, to mark the anniversary of her death, family and friends come together to give something back and raise money for local charities.

The team has previously run the Bath half marathon; cycled from Frome to Land’s End in under 24 hours and pulled a 54-seater coach through Frome. This year Rachel was one of a team of six who pulled a 12-ton fire engine (complete with crew) on a 5k route through Frome. They were raising money for WHY (We Hear You) a local charity supporting families, children and sufferers of cancer with counselling services.

Sergeant Rachel Clark