West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is marking a special anniversary as it celebrates 10 years of Community Volunteers within the service.
Since the launch of the service’s volunteer pilot scheme back in 2012, the volunteers have completed more than 8,500 hours of activity, which is equivalent to 354 days.
Community Volunteers support the service with community engagement activities, such as providing assistance at events, generating Safe and Well Visits and carrying out HeartStart first aid training.
Jonathan Mankelow is one of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s longest-serving Community Volunteers, who began his role during the original pilot scheme and is still with the service a decade later. Reflecting on his time as a volunteer he said: “I always wanted to become a firefighter, but for one reason or another I never went through with it, so becoming a volunteer was a great opportunity for me to part of the fire service but to work at my own pace.
“As of today (1 June), I have been working at news agents in Rustington for 35 years. Being a volunteer is my way of giving something back to the local community as they have supported me in my job for the last three and a half decades, and as the role is flexible, I am able to balance it with my full-time job and give up time where I can.
“Over the years I’ve regained contact with friends I lost touch with through volunteering, and I’ve had some really rewarding experiences. For example, before the pandemic I was out and about generating Safe and Well Visits and I met a lovely lady whose house we fitted with smoke alarms. However, recently she visited me at the shop and told me that her hearing had deteriorated. I have now referred her through the right channels, and she will have specialist smoke detection equipment fitted to meet her exact needs, and it’s moments like this which make volunteering so worthwhile.”
Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Chief Fire Officer, added: “Volunteers help us in delivering prevention activities. Therefore, every single volunteer has helped to make West Sussex a safer place to live – and for that I am extremely grateful.
“Over the years we have had 79 volunteers – 35 of which are currently part of the service – and I want to thank each of them for the time and support they have given so generously.
“It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to freely give up your time which could be spent with family, meeting up with friends or carrying out a hobby, and I truly admire all of our volunteers for choosing to spend their days helping to keep our local communities safe.”
The milestone is being celebrated during Volunteers Week, which is an annual event that takes place between 1-7 June to thank those who give their spare time to help others.