Some of West Dunbartonshire’s youngest volunteers gave up their Saturday morning recently to help make life safer for its older residents.

Members of the Police Scotland Youth Volunteer (PSYV) teams for Clydebank and Dumbarton joined up for a leafleting operation at sheltered housing complexes in both towns.

The area has been hit by criminals targeting the elderly using distraction techniques to get into their homes or convince them to pay thousands of pounds to bogus workers.

Police have been working to improve security for the residents and getting neighbours to look out for each other. So the leaflet campaign was part of getting the message out about staying safe at home.

Following an 11-week induction course, the PSYV members meet regularly to learn more about policing, and assist with events such as the Saltire Cup at Gleneagles, Go Swim at Balloch or the Rock of Ages event.

The PSYV youths get important life skills from their work but also a sense of responsibility and pride about helping the community.

“The feedback we get is always positive,” said PC Dale Logsdon, coordinator of the PSYV locally. “These youngsters are willing to get out of their beds on a Saturday morning to give elderly residents advice.

“It’s a continual process. We cannot expect a leaflet drop to sort it, but people are starting to catch on - the advice is getting through.”

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The youths are given a briefing by Inspector Mo Boyle before setting out to deliver more than 100 leaflets to four complexes in Dumbarton and Clydebank.

“We’re really grateful for your help with this,” Insp Boyle tells them. “The few incidents we had last weekend didn’t get any money from residents thankfully, but that’s not the case every time.

“You’re really involved in helping us keep people safe.

“We have to look smart and know what we’re talking about and smile at people if we see them.”

PC Logsdon spoke to the sheltered housing units before the volunteers went out so they knew to expect the team, all wearing hi-vis vests.

First up was Willox Park in Dumbarton.

Kyle Robertson, S4 pupil at Dumbarton Academy, said he was recommended to join PSYV and has been volunteering for three years.

The 15-year-old said: “I had an interest in policing but I’ve not decided yet if I’ll choose it as a career.

“I like meeting the new people - and the food.”

Connor Carruth is also in S4, at St Peter the Apostle High, and is a senior youth volunteer at the age of 14.

“I didn’t know about it at all first,” he said of the PSYV. “I thought it was something that could improve my CV. I think working with people is the best bit. That’s transferable to any job.

“It’s extremely satisfying knowing you’ve made an impact because you could stop a bogus caller.”

Both Connor and Kyle joined aged 11 and still have a few more years to contribute.

But both the Clydebank and Dumbarton groups will be looking out for new members soon after past members finish their schooling. Clydebank will be recruiting six new volunteers and Dumbarton needs 16.

The volunteers then move on to Hogan Court in Duntocher to put another 18 information packs through doors.

Then it’s a wander along to homes in Melfort Avenue in Clydebank overlooking the town’s police offices down the hill.

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Michelle Stevenson is an S3 pupil at Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s High and said she was inspired to help others.

“You feel really good because you’re helping people, even if you’re not interacting with them,” she said. “You get quite a lot of satisfaction from that. I’m thinking about a career in the police but I’m not sure yet.

“I can talk to people without being scared now. I would recommend this to others.

“It’s really fun, you get to learn a lot about the police and go to events and socialise with other people you might not normally talk to.”

At homes in Mill Road in Whitecrook, a resident initially doesn’t buzz them in to deliver leaflets because they don’t know who they are. That’s exactly part of the safety message.

As well as helping improve the community, volunteering is making the lives of young people better.

Bethany Gray, an S6 pupil at Clydebank High, didn’t say a single word for her first four months as a volunteer. Now she’s head youth volunteer. The 16-year-old said: “I was just nervous. Another youth volunteer sat down and spoke to me at a passing out parade and that brought me out.

“At first I thought it would be a lot more serious, like the police, but we have a lot of fun.

“I’m considering a career in the police – helping people and going in and it’s different every single day. It’s a fantastic experience – you gain new skills and have friends for life.”