Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Front Counter and Firearms: volunteering with the Met Police

Will acting the part of an injured victim in a counter-terrorism training exercise

My name is Will Scott-Barrett and I am a third year Criminology student. In April 2010 I started volunteering for the Metropolitan Police right here in Kingston. Over the last two years, I have taken many roles as a Met PoliceVolunteer but it is volunteering on the front counter of Kingston Police Station that has been my main role.

I have also taken on roles doing admin work, calling victims of crime to get feedback on how they were dealt with and what their feelings were about the process, and most excitingly, volunteering for Specialist Firearms Command (more commonly known as CO19).

Volunteering on the front counter takes in a wide variety of tasks that include dealing with customers who have lost or found property, reporting in for bail, handing in their driving licences after they have been stopped for things like speeding or talking on their mobile phone, and then on occasions, we deal with victims of crime. I really have enjoyed the last two years as all of the officers and staff and the police station have been very welcoming and are always willing to assist volunteers wherever they need it.

However, for me, the best moments in the last two years have been with the firearms unit. The first one was when I went on a tour of their main base and was permitted to hold some of the firearms that they use when they go on duty. Another really good moment was when was I on exercise with them as a role-play volunteer and got to meet a troop of soldiers from the SAS along with their very friendly dog ‘Killer’. My most ‘high-profile’ role was recently when I took part in a multi-agency counter-terrorism exercise that was designed to simulate the aftermath of a terrorist attack in the middle of the Olympic Period

I volunteer for the police a couple of times a week which is probably quite a lot, but I do it because it gives me a great sense of fulfilment especially when I deal with a difficult customer and manage to solve the problem they came to the police station with. I have sadly moved onto a different role in the police now (I'm currently training as a Special Constable!) but I could not recommend the role more, anyone doing it will have a really enjoyable time.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

One off Volunteering

Hello I’m Natasha and at the beginning of my second year I was keen to do some volunteering, but I am studying Adult Nursing and so unable to commit to regular volunteering due to our shifts on clinical placement . However I heard about KUSU Volunteering at Freshers Fayre and was delighted to be able to sign up for one-off volunteering!! One-off volunteers receive emails regularly with details of events that are looking for volunteers, and you just email back to register your interest and then you receive all the information you need.

Natasha (5th from the left) and other volunteers from the Mini Marathon

Before I knew it I was volunteering for Great Ormond street hospital cheering on their runners in the Royal parks half marathon in Hyde Park. Since then I have also volunteered selling clothes at a clothes swap for Cancer Research, taking timings at the Kingston trials for the London Virgin Mini Marathon and as a marshall for a Miles for Missing people fun run. To some people being a marshall or cheering on runners may seem like a very trivial thing to do but the charities are always so grateful for volunteers for giving up their time and many say that the events could not run without our help.

Volunteering has definitely improved my confidence, team working skills and also taught me how to adapt to new situations, but most importantly it has got me out of the house, having fun and helping people especially during the tougher times of my course. I would urge anyone who is interested to sign up to one-off volunteering (especially my fellow student nurses!!), not only will you have fun but it is something that will look great on your CV and you can be proud to have made a difference.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

From One Off Projects to Project Leader...

Hello! My name is Rachael Penzo, and I'm a third year Biomedical Sciences student, and longtime volunteer here at Kingston University.

Rachael (left) volunteering for Save the Children
I started volunteering towards the end of my first year, and I must admit, when I first came to university, I had no interest in volunteer work whatsoever. A few one-off volunteering opportunities soon changed all that, and I have been in and out the volunteering office ever since! I have walked hounds and painted kennels, made Christmas cards for Whizz Kids, and I've even waded knee-deep in the Hogsmill River! I’ve also participated in a number of projects outside KUSU Volunteering, including weed bashing for RockCorps, and chaperoning for The Big Bang Fair and Save the Children events!

But I think my most memorable experience as a volunteer has got to be running Knit Hats for Babies, a project whereby I taught volunteers to knit hats for premature babies, which were then distributed to local hospitals. The sessions gave us a break from the everyday life, the stresses of being a student, and a guaranteed way to socialise with other like-minded individuals. Running my own project taught me patience, compassion, and other transferable skills that can not only be used to help further my career, but in general social environments as well.

Rachael and friends at the Big Bang Science Fair 
I have spread the word to all my friends, and almost all of them volunteer now in one form or another! To me, doing something out of the kindness of your own heart, by giving back to the community you are so proudly part of, gives me the biggest warm, fuzzy feeling inside (and I want to share this amazing feeling with everyone!).

Volunteering is an integral part of me now; it's one of the ways I define myself. I can definitely see myself volunteering in the future, and I hope it will stay with me for the rest of my life! 
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