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When Amy Clarke left sixth form as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, she followed in her mother and father’s footsteps by joining the police force as a police community support officer – or PCSO to you and me.

Ten years on and Amy, one of Bromford’s new neighbourhood coaches, admits it was a bit like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“I had no confidence. I was very shy and I never thought I wanted a job that involved lots of talking to people because at that time I simply didn’t enjoy it,” Amy recalls.

“But joining the police made me grow up very quickly as I was dealing with distressing situations straight away and it allowed me to develop a thick skin and boosted my confidence immensely. I was out in my community all the time building relationships but I had no specialist equipment, apart from a radio, so I was always very conscious about how I talked and treated people. I lived by the motto ‘treat people how you like to be treated yourself’ and I think that went a long way.”

The mum-of-twins spent an enjoyable 9 years at West Mercia Police, patrolling the streets of Shrewsbury, before realising that the job had eventually changed somewhat.

“I wasn’t looking for a job at the time but something about this position really interested me. I loved the fact that, during a period when others are cutting back, Bromford are investing time, money and effort into both their customers and colleagues. In my old job we went from walking around our community talking to people, to being asked to join missing person searches 20 miles away and it became less and less about my immediate community – Bromford’s new neighbourhood role is almost filling a hole left by things like that and I feel like I’ve gone back to my roots.”

The 27-year-old, who lives in Wem, now covers a patch of around 175 homes in north Shrewsbury, Wem and Ellesmere and is enjoying the rewarding nature of her new role.

Local girl

She said: “I’ve been knocking on doors and just introducing myself and letting people know I’m here if they have any questions or need any support. I almost always get a really positive reaction from people! I had one guy recently who was fairly dismissive but I left my details anyway and a couple of weeks later he rang me to say he’d been made redundant – he knew nothing about benefits and so I’ve been guiding him through the process and I’ve also helped him access a foodbank.
 
“Another of my customers, a lady, was suffering from severe anxiety and wouldn’t even leave the house a few months ago. Her neighbours used to do her shopping too. I now pop and see her every fortnight and I challenged her to get to the shops, take a ride on a bus, and a few others things and she rang me the other day to say she’s secured an interview for a customer service advisor role. I felt real pride that our relationship had grown so much in that short space of time and that she had already made such massive steps forward.”

Amy admits it will take time to build trusting relationships with every customer with her day still divided between tenancy reviews, home visits, sign ups and supporting people in rent arrears but she’s relishing the opportunity to make her mark.

“I’m a local girl so I know all about the local clubs and community activities and all my customers seem really happy to know I’m so close to everything that is going on. Ultimately I’m the face of Bromford for these people and it’s important they know we do genuinely care.”

Fancy the daily challenges that come with being a neighbourhood coach? Check out our latest vacancies here.

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