Essex: Volunteer problem-solver didn’t let the pandemic get in his way
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Around 1,800 people volunteer their valuable spare time to help us protect our communities and keep you safe from harm.
Among them are police support volunteers who provide specialist support to various areas of the force. include supporting our digital and forensics teams in the world of cybercrime, our specialist fraud and scams investigators and our Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders (MOSOVO) team, working with our Witness Care team and helping out in the Essex Police Museum.
To celebrate National Volunteers’ Week and the vital work our volunteers do all year round, we are highlighting a few of our more unusual volunteering roles.
Meet Tony Ellis, who is our only problem-solving volunteer. He worked throughout the pandemic from home to keep our problem-solvers’ forum working.
Retiring from Essex Police after serving as a police officer for 30 years and then several more as a crime prevention tactical adviser, Tony became one of our volunteers in 2015. He was asked to stay on as a volunteer as his knowledge and expertise were invaluable. Over the years, his work has earned him an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party and a mention by the Prime Minister for a new initiative he implemented whilst working in Epping.
Tony operates a problem-solving ‘think tank’, liaising with more than 250 people across the country as well as working collaboratively with Epping Forest District Council to provide crime prevention advice to victims of domestic abuse, burglary, hate crime and anti-social behaviour.
“My volunteering role allows me the flexibility to work two or three hours a day Monday to Friday to keep my brain engaged and to use the wealth of knowledge my policing background has given me, without the pressure of a full-time role."
Before the pandemic Tony enjoyed liaising with officers based at Ongar Police Station, sitting at the same desk he occupied for many years, sharing best practice and enjoying the interaction with the next generation of police officers. But since March 2020, he has been working from home, continuing his valuable problem-solving work.
Tony feels that volunteering is the best way for him to share the expertise and specialist knowledge he developed over many years of policing as ‘it would be a waste not to use it’.
“Volunteering has given me a new focus and purpose during retirement. I would recommend volunteering to anyone."