The Western Isles branch of the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers has contributed a lot to the local community since being set up earlier this year.
Led by PC Rick Henderson, a group of 24 young people aged 13-15 routinely gather to help around the Islands, doing such things as training with Ambulance Services, lending a hand at the Hebridean Celtic Festival and supporting various events throughout the Western Isles.
The young people within the PSYV Western Isles branch learn about policing and its effect on the community, and do physical training in many different forms.
The members take on roles of leadership and must work as a team to successfully complete various activities, leaving young people who go through the programme with a very useful skill set for the future.
Anna Macaulay, 15, a member of the volunteer service spoke on behalf of the 24 members: “I love being part of a team and getting to know new people, especially getting to know the further away community in Harris.”
“I have made many great friends through PSYV and I can’t wait to learn more about the police and how we can make this island have a better community.”
On what she gets from the programme, she listed: “The sense of achievement and being in a team, helping others and taking on roles of leadership throughout different events.
“It gives me more knowledge on what police do and by being in PSYV it gives me the opportunity to work alongside the police and further help with volunteering.”
PC Rick Henderson, leader of PSYV said, “I want to see members of the group grow and flourish and gain confidence.”
“I want the all members of the team to come out of the program with at least a level 4 SQA educational award.”
“The group attends loads of local events where they support and give an extra hand. They can free up police hands by stepping in their place”.
Speaking on the successes of the group, Rick said that “Since their initial training, the group has volunteered over 450 hours.”
“When we started, I had 160 applications but could only pick 24.”
“In a competition concerning all PSYV units across Scotland, we came 10 out of 21 with one of the youngest teams.”
“It’s a group of different people, from different backgrounds with different skills.”
Earlier this year a few members of the Western Isles PSYV went to help at the Edinburgh Tattoo and stayed at the police college. Due to the length of the trip and being on the day of the tattoo, the PSYV team stayed up from four in the morning till midnight, showing dedication and true volunteer spirit.
The group, originally called ‘PSYV Stornoway’ was set up between Lewis and Harris, but PC Rick Henderson changed it to ‘PSYV Western Isles’, and is looking to expand to the Southern Isles and at some point set up a group in Uist.
Most recently, the PSYV were helping at the West Side 10k/5k races, helping at water stations and marshalling, where their help was greatly appreciated by runners. They also recently marshalled and volunteered at the Western Isles Triathlon, a massive event with many participants who all were affected positively by the PSYV’s presence.
Their next volunteering effort will be at the Ness 10/5k. The group will be taking part in the Remembrance Day parade and will also be bag packing to raise funds for the group on October 21.
(This article was initiated and created by John Macrae, a pupil of The Nicolson Institute who was completing a work-experience week with welovestornoway.com and EVENTS newspaper. Welovestornoway.com and EVENTS welcome the chance to carry more news about local organisations and events.)