Diary of a key worker: Martin Binks, learning and welfare support officer
In response to COVID-19 our staff and officers are working to keep you safe. For some this has meant a change to their role, the way they work and some personal sacrifices.
As part of our series of new ‘Diary of a key worker’ features we’ll be bringing you the personal stories of colleagues from teams and departments across the force and how they are responding to the pandemic.
"I started as a cadet leader last September with my local unit. I work with teenagers and I know the bad press they receive is not a fair and true reflection of the majority. I also live in the area and wanted to give back to the community.
"Cadets are very different since lockdown, no meetings obviously. I miss seeing their enthusiasm to learn and how their knowledge grows. I also miss the fun sessions as well as fellow leaders.
"My day job has also been hugely affected. I support Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) pupils in a mainstream school. We are on a rota and I've worked one week since schools closed.
"After checking with work, I reached out to WMP to see if there is anything I can do to volunteer during these times. I needed something to help with my own mental health and to help others. I was put in touch with Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) who matched me with my role as a ‘befriender’.
"My role involves phoning a vulnerable person each week to ensure they are okay, getting essentials delivered and a general chat. The length of the call varies from week to week.
"Myself, I'm checking in remotely on teams to see how students are doing. It's difficult to explain work and I take my hat off to the teachers for teaching this way. I’m also doing online courses to keep my mind active and improve myself for my return to work.
"Personally, it's difficult not seeing my grandkids other than video calls but it's the same for many others. After what was so surreal to start with, it now feels a little more normal."