“People let me into their lives when they are at their lowest ebb, and they open up their hearts to me.”
This is why Ammanford man Peter Stych has given up his time for the past 26 years to support victims of crime.
Mr Stych spoke of his experience as a volunteer for Goleudy, a victim and witness support service, at a Dyfed-Powys Police event celebrating the work of its volunteers.
He explained that as a youngster his dream was always to join the police, but that for various reasons it didn’t happen. As a way of experiencing life on the front line, he instead offered up his time for 27 years as a Special Constable in Birmingham.
He said: “You can only volunteer to do something if you enjoy it. I needed a bit of action and adventure – it certainly gave me that.
“When the IRA blew the door off Denis Howell’s house in 1974 I was there, just a few yards away. That was followed by the Birmingham pub bombings, and one of my jobs then was to seal off half of Birmingham.
“I wanted new experiences. I wanted something else and was eager to take on new things.”
When Mr Stych moved to Carmarthenshire, he attended a police open day and was approached about becoming a volunteer in victim support. His role now is to help victims of crime through the whole journey, from reporting the incident to police, to the investigation and criminal justice process.
He admitted that the change in role took some getting used to.
“One of the things I have found difficult was going from being a Special to being in victim support because we see things very differently,” he said.
“You see everything when you’re out on the job, and you become hardened to it in some ways. Then I changed roles and started visiting victims of burglaries and assaults.
“I was now seeing things from the other side.
“These victims might only experience crime once in their life, and all of a sudden I changed my attitude and my outlook on it.
“I realised that we have to do what we promise. If we say we will phone them with an update at the end of the week, we must, even if there is no update. It might have taken everything that person has to wait until the end of the week for our call. If we don’t do what we say, it could set them back.”
Mr Stych said volunteering his time with victims brought on a whole range of emotions – from happiness to anger, and a sense of privilege to frustration.
“It is nice to be trusted,” he said. “It gives you hope, and it gives you passion.
“It makes me sad to see people who have been victims of crime, and the impact it has had on their lives. I’m happy when they get the outcomes they were waiting for, and I feel privileged that people will let me into their lives when they are at their lowest ebb. They let me in and they open up their hearts to me. For that, I feel very humble.”
*Goleudy is a victim and witness support service funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police. It provides a single point of contact throughout the whole victim journey, from first reporting the incident to the police, through the investigation and criminal justice process. Victims of crime are offered support whether they have reported the incident to police or not.