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Do you own a 4x4 vehicle and have good experience of driving in extreme or challenging weather conditions?
If so, you could be exactly the sort of person the emergency services and local authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are looking for to help local communities this winter and beyond.
On Friday, October 14, officers and staff from Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire County Council will meet at Netley to officially launch the new 4x4 Volunteers scheme across the two counties.
The launch event will provide an opportunity for media to interview the people responsible for establishing the scheme from Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Many of the scheme's first volunteers will also be present together with their vehicles, providing a photo opportunity.
"We're looking for experienced motorists with 4x4 vehicles to volunteer to be part of our scheme and work with us and other agencies to support their local community in times of need," said Sergeant Phil Lamb, from the Police Support Volunteer Scheme, who has helped establish the scheme with the fire service and county council.
"It is difficult to say exactly how much time you'll need to give up to the cause, but volunteers will be asked to come and help during times of critical need such as extreme weather.
"If we have another winter like last year, with a repeat of the extreme ice and snow conditions, our resources will be severely stretched, and that is when drivers will be put to good use helping out those in need and transporting vulnerable members of our community.
"All volunteers will be required to go through a vetting process, have a clean driving licence, and at least three years driving experience. You will need to be available to help at short notice and at different times of the day according to need.
"In return, the Local Resilience Forum will cover your mileage costs and out-of-pocket expenses. There has never been a better time to step up and volunteer to help your community to help itself, and in turn, know that you are greatly assisting the emergency services and other agencies in keeping people safe from harm."
Typical duties for the volunteers could include, at times of need, assisting with the movement of police resources, driving operational police staff around the counties to enable them to check on vulnerable people, and helping the service deliver its vital day to day services.
Successful volunteers will also be required to posses a valid MOT certificate and current insurance for their vehicle, demonstrate up-to-date knowledge of the Highway Code and be prepared to undertake in-house training on the subject.
Ian Hoult, Chair of the Local Resilience Forum, Community Resilience Group, said:
"In major incidents and during extreme weather, local communities can play a significant role in supporting the work of emergency responders which allows important resources to be targeted where they are needed the most.
"In addition to this crucial support, by becoming a 4x4 Volunteer, drivers can also help to support their own communities and those vulnerable residents that may need extra help during a time of need."
Assistant Chief Officer Bob Ratcliffe from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said:
"This is a great way for members of the public to come together in times of need to support their local community and be involved in the life saving work of the emergency services.
"This will provide us all with invaluable additional resources and support at key times throughout the year when they are needed most."
Anyone interested in the scheme who would like more details or would like to express an interest in registering should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hampshire Constabulary on 101.