Afghanistan veteran Doug looks forward to Armed Forces Day

Date published: 22 June 2018 14:44
Dated: 22 June 2018 15:42:45

As South Yorkshire Police counts down to supporting Armed Forces day on Saturday 30 June, we’ve met up with police probationer PC Doug Macdonald, who will be coming face-to-face with fellow forces veterans on the streets of South Yorkshire in the coming fortnight. Doug, who has served in Afghanistan, is taking to the beat and experiencing a whistle-stop tour of events organised by the team at Project Nova, a partnership between the military charities RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity and Walking with the Wounded, as he completes the next phase of his police training.

Currently stationed at Maltby, the probationer will join Project Nova staff for the next fortnight with the aim of developing his community engagement skills and gaining valuable insight into the work South Yorkshire Police undertakes in partnership with the project, as part of the force commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

PC Macdonald said: “Excellent engagement skills are essential to becoming an officer and I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to partner with Project Nova to see how it creates a dialogue with people in need of assistance. To do this job effectively, you need to be a good listener and quickly develop relationships. My experience in the army should prove beneficial as I have an understanding of the military mind-set and can empathise with others like me, who have left the forces and are attempting to adapt to life as a civilian, which can be very challenging.”

Project Nova currently operates in a number of areas across the east and north of England and sees police identifying, supporting and engaging with people from military backgrounds when they stray into behaviour requiring police assistance.

PC Macdonald added: “I’m looking forward to learning about the early interventions delivered by the partnership and how we work to help veterans. Hopefully, I will be able to share my learning with my colleagues and strengthen ties with the charity. If I can help steer vulnerable people away from crime, this can only be a positive for them and our communities.”

A former Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer with the Army, Doug, 31, served his country from 2004 to 2011, when he toured Afghanistan and saw service in Canada and Europe.

PC Macdonald, who entered service with South Yorkshire Police in September 2017, was based in the north of Afghanistan in 2009, where he patrolled near Kabul international airport. Speaking of his time in the warzone, Doug said: “It was a real eye-opener and very humbling to see how other people live. Many of the things I used to take for granted, such as health and social care, were not prevalent in Afghanistan. I matured a lot whilst I was out there and not just because of the danger. More of it was down to seeing at first-hand the hardship other people face on a daily basis.

“My battalion’s first job was recovering an American vehicle that had been hit by an improvised explosive device, but the defining moments for me related more to the experience as a whole than the risk to life we endured.”

“It’s pleasing to see that South Yorkshire Police is supporting Armed Forces Day. I think it’s a great that the day gives people the opportunity to get a greater understanding of what the military does in modern times.”

Over 100,000 ex-military service community reside in South Yorkshire. The Project Nova and South Yorkshire Police partnership has come to the aid directly of over 120 veterans since starting their collaboration in September 2016.

Steve Lowe, Project Nova Manager for the North of England said “Our partnership with South Yorkshire Police is making a real positive life changing impact for those ex-Military who, for a range of reasons, have experienced difficulties after leaving the service. I would encourage anyone who has served in HM Armed Forces and comes into contact with the Police to request a referral to Project Nova, alternatively contact our Central Support Team on 0800 9177 299”

Armed Forces Day will be marked in Rotherham with a Lancaster Bomber flypast and military parade through the town centre. Events start at 10am and finish at 3pm on Saturday 30 June. You can watch the veterans’ parade and events from 11am to 4pm in Sheffield tomorrow, Saturday 23 June. For more information on both events visit -https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/…/sheffield-armed-forces…/

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