Team successfully complete Community Engagement Response course

Retired Grimsby police officer Alan Rutter among a growing army of professional volunteers who will provide vital support in emergency situations across North East Lincolnshire

Alan, and 11 others, have just successfully completed a ten-week Community Engagement Response Team course as part of their work with the newly-formed Blue Lights Brigade (BLB).

Officially launched last summer under the VANEL (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire) banner, BLB was awarded £77,500 funding from the Connected Communities Innovation Fund, with a further £25,000 in match funding secured.

The idea is to utilise the vast skills of retired professionals to be called on at times of extreme weather or major incidents.

An officer with the Humberside force until his full retirement in 2014, Alan had an active career, mainly concentrating on the south bank as a detective constable.

“For me it is about giving something back into the community and of course those of us with such experience have sadly witnessed events in the past, which means we are able to relate to things that do arise.

“I do not think that any of us realised just how much we would get out of this experience,” added Alan.

Meanwhile BLB volunteers Peter Coupland and Michael Horrocks are still working – Peter in security and Michael within the mental health sector. However, they both wanted to volunteer in their spare time.

“The training has been fantastic, and it is a great opportunity to do something and make a real difference,” said Peter.

Michael added: “It is good to put something back and you don’t realise just how unavailable certain emergency services can be to some people – this is a chance to give back.”

BLB co-ordinator, working through VANEL, is former police officer Steve Jones. He is delighted by the CERT training response.

“The volunteers have all been taken through a comprehensive programme, which has replicated real-life scenarios and their responses in a variety of situations. It is a great team of people,” said Steve.

BLB has been supported throughout by Humberside Fire and Rescue group manager Nick Tharratt, with the presentation evening held at Poplar Road Fire Station, Cleethorpes.

“This is a great way of getting communities involved in the support of the emergency services using people with such vast experience and knowledge, which is so useful. It is also about positive mental wellbeing for some of the ex-services personnel, who can continue to play a valuable contribution within their society,” said Nick.

• If you want to be part of a CERT near you please contact Steve Jones on 01472 245510, email mailto:blb@vanel.org.uk or pop in to 23 Bargate Grimsby DN34 4SS.