A word for volunteers

A word for volunteers

Picture of Helen Arnold

Helen Arnold

Thames Valley Police Lead Chaplain

As someone who has done heaps of volunteering over the years; in social services, in church, my daughters’ schools, police, children’s charity, carer for my parents, sports – we all do it and probably don’t realise the hours we put in, but our society wouldn’t function without VOLUNTEERS!
I now manage our team of volunteer chaplains in TVP. I am the one full-time, paid person as Lead Chaplain of our Chaplaincy Team, and I never forget how lucky I am to be paid now for a role that I love doing. I too, was previously a volunteer in Cambridgeshire and Northumbria police.
We wouldn’t have a Chaplaincy service in TVP without our team of 23 volunteer chaplains, and I feel privileged to recruit, support and manage the team. They are a group of experienced, trained volunteers who have offered their time and passion because they appreciate the job that police officers, staff and their families do for our communities. We all benefit from the fantastic policing that we so often take for granted, keeping our families, our streets, and our homes safe.
So our volunteers are keen to give something back. Chaplains are well aware how draining and stressful the policing job can be, and that the job, whether operational, or support staff, and including other volunteers like our own Special Constables and cadets, takes its toll at different times in life. And personal life issues sometimes get in the way of the job!
"The loss of so many family and friends in a such a short space of time overwhelmed me but having someone to talk to who was completely unrelated to the situation was incredibly helpful"
"Just a quick email to let you know how positive it is having the Chaplain visit Roads Policing - She is full of energy and positivity. It's always a pleasure to have her visit"
"You are my rock"
"I met the chaplain, which I can say was my light, even though you are from a different faith to me. You were great, not pushy at all and very supportive. It gave me lots of confidence to pick my head up and continue. You also helped me explain to my children, and for that I am thankful to have met you"
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Our volunteer chaplains are people who come to the role with lots of their own life experience. They are good listeners, and non-judgemental of other people’s choices. They are people of faith, and that is often what inspires them to show their care for others, irrespective of religion. Chaplains will support everyone regardless of whether you have a faith or not. Our volunteers are trained as part of their induction, by Police Chaplaincy UK, our national body. They are fully vetted, and their roles are ratified by the College of Policing, and National Police Chiefs’ Council.
Chaplains are expected to visit stations for a couple of hours a week, build relationships with teams and individuals on the ground, they will accompany on patrols, or ridealongs to understand better what day to day policing is like, and offer confidential one to-one meetings to anyone who asks.
We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and skilled group of people, our own citizens , who offer their time, often way over the minimum hours. Some spend time on shift, some will turn up ‘out of hours’ at a scene watch with an encouraging hello, or some warm food and drink. One chaplain has been known to set up a soup stall for police on a cold night! Others offer cakes made by their family members, of bring fruit into the station (healthy alternative!).
They create those “water-cooler” moments, when people get the chance to let their guard down and share something that might be bothering them, offload some concerns, take time to get some help. A good volunteer chaplain will loiter until needed, use discretion and not get in the way when crises are running.
Chaplains attend larger Operations by arrangement, so you will see us in the Strategic Holding Area providing a listening ear, setting up the prayer tent, and with a ready welcome to our police colleagues from Mutual Aid as well.
It is such a varied role, and one which every one of our volunteer chaplains is passionate about. Police people are ordinary people, and as chaplains, we recognise the extraordinary commitment and sacrifice that you make in service to our communities. Our volunteers give of their time as a reflection of the selfless service of all of our officers, staff and volunteer help in TVP.
In these days of some criticism of policing in the media, our large numbers of volunteers, and chaplains in particular, are probably the biggest advocates for the police and all the positive work that they witness going on behind the scenes – great work, bravery and risk, that many of the public never see. We are your biggest supporters and are grateful for all that you do and the unseen hours that you and all our colleagues put in to TVP.
Behind every great organisation is a willingness to serve, to go the extra mile, and to acknowledge the contributions of the whole team, that is, this whole police family and its willing volunteers.
Let’s celebrate them this week!

Our own TVP Volunteer chaplain, Revd Graham Choldcroft wrote this Police Prayer which has now been adopted nationally:

Bless, we pray, all members of
Thames Valley Police,
that we may honour our calling
and serve those around us,
upholding human rights and
according equal respect to all.
Inspire us to standards of fairness, integrity,
diligence and impartiality worthy of our calling;
that our actions might always be just,
our motives pure and tempered with compassion,
and that we may walk humbly with you.
Give us strength and wisdom
to protect the weak and vulnerable,
and champion the cause of the innocent;
protect us from harm,
and in your mercy let peace reign in Thames Valley.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Thames Valley Police, please visit our Volunteers page – or to check which opportunities are currently available, please visit our vacancies portal.