A unique volunteering scheme set up to encourage citizenship and skills amongst young people is going nationwide after successful pilots and a funding boost.
Police Scotland Youth Volunteer (PSYV) groups, which are supported by Young Scot and YouthLink Scotland, will expand to all 14 territorial divisions over the coming month.
And funding has been secured which means that a further seven groups are expected to be in place by December 2015. By December next year the total will be 35 PYSV teams and more than 1000 youth and adult volunteers.
It’s a year since the first 100 PSYV volunteers from groups in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow “passed out” at a recognition ceremony at Tulliallan, building on the success of a fledgling PSYV initiative in Cumnock, Ayrshire.
Currently there are 120 young people volunteering in the programme, supported by 35 adult leaders; by the end of April this will increase to 336 youth volunteers and 112 adult leaders.
Since then, the youth volunteers have embarked on a series of engagements including to the Commonwealth Games and Junior Ryder Cup, as well as supporting local policing events.
This year they’re also gearing up for summer stints at T in the Park, The Open, Wickerman Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Funding totalling £97,000 secured via the Scottish Government and Libor fines – monies released to the police from fines levied on banks – means that more youth volunteers will be recruited by the end of the year taking the total to 420 and by the end of next year to 840 young people. By that time it is anticipated there will be more than 200 adult volunteers in place.
Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson, who has led the PSYV project, said: “Young people from across those communities where we ran pilot groups have had a great year where they have learned many skills and enjoyed experiences which help instil values of citizenship and public service.
“The success of those groups means we are now in position to be able to introduce a further nine groups in other places so that every policing division in Scotland has a PSYV team.
“Those new groups will be in: Alloa, Paisley, Motherwell, Inverness, Livingston, Dumbarton, Dunfermline, Fraserburgh and Stranraer. And there are more groups in the pipeline destined for other communities.
“The principles of volunteering and engaging positively with young people in our communities are strongly-held by Police Scotland.
“As we move forward with recruiting for new volunteers, I believe this expansion is a further demonstration of the strength of connection between policing and local communities.”
As well as recruiting young volunteers, the groups will also require adult volunteers to co-ordinate activities locally.
Inspector Craig Rankine, who manages the PSYV programme, said: “This is a fantastic way for young people to become involved in positive volunteering opportunities across the country, contribute to their local community and develop as individuals.
“The experience to date has been an entirely positive one for all involved. The young people who have volunteered have provided feedback around the experiences they’ve gained and the skills they’ve been able to develop through a structured programme of activities linked to local policing.
“The scheme is a significant commitment by Police Scotland to engage positively with young people in the communities which we serve.
“Working closely with partners in Young Scot, YouthLink Scotland, the Scottish Government and the National Volunteer Police Cadet team from England and Wales, the programme highlights the positive and often unseen contribution that young people bring to our towns and cities.”
Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: “Our partnership programme with Police Scotland for Youth Volunteers gives young people such amazing opportunities to get involved in their communities and be part of something inspiring.
“The pilot scheme was a fantastic success with young people telling us that being involved in the programme made them feel so much more confident in themselves and their ability to make a difference to topics like community safety and inter-generational relationships.
“We are hugely excited that the initiative will be rolled out across all 14 Police divisions in Scotland and look forward to seeing even more amazing young role models making a positive impact in local communities across the country.”
YouthLink Scotland’s Jim Sweeney added: “We are delighted to be partners in this exciting development. We feel it is a good fit for so many young people, allowing them to take positive action both for themselves and the community.
“We are pleased that we can use our expertise and experience to help deliver training to the volunteers and to accredit the young people’s learning.”
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Mathieson said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to become more involved in their local community and to learn about the essential work Police Scotland does on a day to day basis.
“This scheme could even discover the future of policing in Scotland by inspiring these volunteers to go on to become police officers themselves or lead the way in to other positive destinations volunteers may not have previously considered.
“The Scottish Government is proud to support this initiative and we look forward to seeing even more youth and adult volunteers on the streets of Scotland in the coming months.”
Vic Emery, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: “We are delighted that the Libor funding, secured by Scottish Government, will enable the PSYV groups to be expanded across Scotland following the outstanding success of the pilots.
“It is crucially important that Police Scotland engage with young people and PSYV provides a unique opportunity to build links between policing and the young in our local communities.”