Before I retired, I was a broadcast journalist with a very demanding job and a highly developed work ethic. I knew I needed to have a role that would fill the gap in my life that my career was providing. I had been called for jury service in London and found the administration of justice compelling, so decided I would apply to become a magistrate.
After a series of interviews, I was accepted and due to start training when they suddenly closed Bedford Magistrates’ Court, so didn’t need any more magistrates after all. So I applied to Bedfordshire Police so I could work in the administration of justice in that way.
In my role as a police support volunteer, I have had a number of different roles and placements. I first took part in a review of front office staff in several stations. I was the Bedfordshire coordinator for the Local Crime: Community Sentence programme, arranging presentations to community groups by a Magistrate and a Probation office, until the changes to probation meant it was no longer sustainable.
I had a placement with the head of local policing at Ampthill police station before it closed. I summarised government policy documents for her and set up her filing system. I helped her launch the Hate Crime Strategy, and became a member of the Hate Crime working group.
I trained as a Restorative Justice practitioner with Restorative Solutions when it was delivering RJ for Bedfordshire Police, and transferred to the Signpost Hub when it opened earlier this year. I recently did a home visit for the Signpost Hub to a traumatised victim of a burglary and I also spend some time each week at Ampthill hub with PC Aaron Dagley, analysing local crime figures and liaising with the force’s Community Watch schemes.
When people ask me how I fit volunteering around my life, I often tell them how I enjoy my volunteering and my work life balance flows naturally. I like to fill my days! I have two dogs which I walk each day and I also go to the leisure centre two or three times a week for Pilates classes. I sing in two choirs and lead a pub quiz team. Most days I have either a coroner’s court or police role of some kind.
The beauty of volunteering within Bedfordshire Police means that I can use my specialist skills from my career, whilst enjoying the work I am completing in a team of wonderful people who provide no end of support.
My role varies a lot, and I help out every year at the annual Family Fun Day at Police Headquarters in Kempston, getting involved in everything from promoting the volunteering opportunities to helping children around the stalls. No two days are the same and I love every moment.
I joined as I wanted to be part of a team and work on projects that I can really get involved in, and there are plenty more opportunities for people like me.
Helen Armitage is one of our longest serving Police Support Volunteers. Helen currently works in the Signpost Hub as a remote volunteer based in Flitwick. In support of National Volunteer’s Day, Helen wrote a blog post about her role as a volunteer.
To find out about volunteering with Bedfordshire Police, visit the force’s website.