Appropriate Adult Volunteer’s Story
When a call out comes it could be for so many different reasons. It could mean a very short visit to the police station or emerging many hours later, way after your shift should have finished, but you have chosen to stay to see things through. It could be to assist a young person in desperate circumstances; their answer to the question aged 15 of “where do you see yourself in 5 years time” being “dead or in prison” or an elderly person, who for some reason you never find out has stabbed someone at a petrol station and admits that on the spot.
The detained person could appear scared, jovial, angry, accepting or confused. The custody staff could be in a jolly mood, offering cups of tea all round and thankful you are there or stressed and busy, overstretched and giving a slight air of annoyance at your requested presence. The custody suite could be calm and quiet or manic and noisy. The person you meet could look like your aunt, mum, son or niece. You get into interview and suddenly all this evidence of the alleged offence is produced. The young man who appeared like your son is alleged to have written a manual for paedophiles and has apparently been grooming a 13 year old girl (who looks like your niece). The old lady who looks like your aunt is alleged to have punched the police officer and strands of hair allegedly pulled from her bun are produced in an evidence bag.
Throughout all this your role remains the same; to support someone in a very stressful situation and to put aside all your personal feelings and possible prejudices. It’s not easy; but its incredibly worthwhile. Very rarely you are called back to bail someone who you saw when they were first detained and they say “thank you. What you said made a real difference. I have asked for help from my GP.” Or more often you learn that the person you helped was back in the cells a few days later; still homeless, without family or friends and really just wanting a warm place to sleep.
You can find out how you can get involved by visiting our appropriate adult volunteer page.