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The wonderful volunteers who make things happen

I am delighted to say that tonight will mark the first meeting of Dorset’s new cadet unit.

Establishing a cadet unit in the county has been a major priority of mine, as the successes they have had in other parts of the UK have been extraordinary.

Cadets help young people to thrive, to play a positive role in their communities and provide valuable opportunities for them to learn and to be heard.

I have heard inspirational stories about young people who had previously been shy and were being bullied, who learned how to become assertive and confident after joining the cadets.

And at an introductory event held at Bourne Academy last month, Kensington and Chelsea’s cadet coordinator PC Jayne Richardson described how her unit had transformed a young man’s life. Before joining the cadets he was a gang member, on the cusp of descending into a cycle of crime. He is now a serving police officer in the Met.

In years to come, I have no doubt there will be similar incredible stories about how Dorset’s first unit has helped our own young people.

I know that setting up the unit has been a long process and I would like to thank all those who have made this possible.

This includes Bourne Academy, who are major partners in the scheme and will be hosting the sessions, and particularly their principal Mark Avoth, who has long been a champion of the project. I want to thank our partners at Dorset Police, the colleagues in my own office who have worked very hard to get this off the ground and the National Volunteer Police Cadet team, who have supported us throughout developing the project.

But most of all, I want to thank the volunteers in Dorset who are giving up their free time to make this happen.

Earlier in the year, we put the call out for people who wanted to act as volunteer leaders, working directly with Dorset Police to run the scheme.

We were inundated with requests – as we were several months later when we advertised for young people themselves to come forward to join the unit.

These volunteers have come from a wide range of backgrounds – some of them are involved in the policing world, either as officers, staff or special constables, but others are teachers, engineers or are retired after working in long careers. The one thing they have in common is they are all keen to give something back and help inspire young people to thrive.

It’s appropriate that the first cadets event is being held during Volunteers Week, when hundreds of events and celebrations are taking place across the country to celebrate the invaluable and diverse contribution which volunteering makes to countless organisations.

We’re lucky to have such enthusiastic individuals, and I want to offer my thanks to our enthusiastic and brilliant volunteers who work tirelessly in a wide variety of roles doing incredible things across Dorset.

Independent Custody Visitors go out to visit people being held in police custody to ensure they are detained in a dignified and safe manner. Our scheme was recently awarded gold in the Independent Custody Visiting Association Quality Assurance Awards, during an event at the House of Lords – testament to the hard work of staff and volunteers.

Our scrutiny panel members assist us in holding Dorset Police to account by reviewing aspects of their work and influencing positive change.

Finally, our community volunteers come along with us to events across Dorset and enable people to share their views on policing in Dorset.

Volunteers come from all parts of our community, and the work they do has a genuine impact on making Dorset a better place. If you’re interested in finding out more, there are plenty more examples of how you can volunteer to help my office or Dorset Police.

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