07 Dec 2018

‘VOLUNTEERING gave me the skills and confidence I needed to join the police.’

Those are the words of Dyfed-Powys Police PC Alex Jones, who has given up his free time for St John Ambulance Wales for 21 years.

The Carmarthenshire Roads Policing Officer joined St John Ambulance as a Cadet at the age of 11, after going to his first meeting with a school friend to see what it was all about – and he never looked back.

PC Jones has spoken about his experiences as Dyfed-Powys Police celebrates its officers and staff who give up their time for other agencies as part of the UN’s International Volunteer Day.

“When I went to my first meeting, I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I soon found out that the cadets isn’t just about first aid – it’s a youth organisation in its own right.”

PC Jones explained that he wanted to join the police from a very young age, and that so many of the skills he picked up through volunteer work helped during the application process.

“The grounding that St John Ambulance gave me – the confidence and skills that it has taught me – if it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have got into the police,” he said.

“It was a huge factor in me becoming a police officer.

“We see so many youngsters joining now who want to work in the emergency services, and volunteering gives them the x-factor universities and employers are looking for.”

Children can join St John Ambulance as volunteers at the age of seven as Badgers, before moving on to become cadets at aged 10 and Young Adults at 18. While the perception is that St John teaches first aid skills alone, volunteers learn so much more, as PC Jones explained.

“When I was doing my Grand Prior Award, we covered things like personal survival, fire prevention, communication and so on,” he said. “The subjects have really come on since I joined, and now you learn about social media, homelessness, photography – a whole range of topics to improve your personal development and lifestyle awareness.”

Joining as a Cadet, PC Jones was put through a wide range of training, as well as having the opportunity to man public and sporting events as a first aider. Volunteering has also provided opportunities to develop career skills.

 “At the point of becoming a Young Adult, I was working as the PR and media officer for the county team,” PC Jones said. “I was involved in a lot of recruitment and retention of volunteers, and I went around youth divisions doing crime prevention. That was all as a volunteer, but the skills I gained were priceless.”

In 2010, PC Jones was named Youth Volunteer of the Year, winning a national award for his work. In the same year, he led a youth trip to India to equip schools, nurses and Tibetan refugees with life-saving first aid skills and equipment.

“It’s something I started when I was young, and I have enjoyed it since,” he said. “It has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had without it, as well as confidence and more skills than I could ever have imagined.”