IT whiz Ben swaps one frontline for the other as he helps keep the streets of Leicestershire safe during lockdown

A Central England Co-op IT specialist has revealed how he swapped supporting frontline retail workers to volunteering to keep the streets of Leicestershire safe.

Ben Thomas can normally be found playing a vital role in keeping IT problems at bay for colleagues across the retailer’s food stores, funeral homes and travel shops in the area as they work around the clock to ensure communities have access to vital food, essentials and support.

However, during lockdown, the business gave the 27-year-old special permission to take time out to support Leicestershire Police in his role as a Special Constable.

He said: “I decided to become a Special Constable in 2015 and joined up at the beginning of 2016. I have always had an interest around the police and when talking to a friend who was a Special Constable it peaked my interest.

“Being able to do so many aspects of policing including response (dealing with 999 calls), neighbourhood policing (dealing with local issues) and large scale events (such as Download Festival and Diwali) made it really attractive to me.

“I have been based out of Loughborough Police station since January 2020 and before that I worked from Hinckley Police station, however I have the option to work throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

“While on duty I could deal with anything that could possibly get called in to the police ranging from domestic incidents, fights, road traffic collisions, road safety, missing people, burglaries and lots, lots more.”

The 2nd Line Support Engineer also shone a light on how working for a co-operative organisation ensured he could play a vital role in supporting his community during these uncertain times.

He added: “I was really pleased that Central England Co-op released me to help with the pandemic that was happening.

“Being a community based society it showed how far the Society is willing to go to help the communities it serves.

“It also showed there is a real backing to support people who are wanting to volunteer within their communities and some of the help that can be given.”

Ben completed 163 hours of volunteering between March and May, 154 of which were policing on the frontline.

This comes after Leicestershire Police revealed that Special Constables had contributed 8,886 hours to support frontline policing since 27 March as part of Operation Formidable.

As part of this officers were placed into teams and worked a minimum of two shifts per week, with some officers volunteering to work up to six days each week

Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “I’m extremely grateful for the support given by the Special Constabulary. Thank you to each and every one of our officers who stepped up to support us on the frontline, 8,886 hours is a truly brilliant effort.

“It’s periods such as this that demonstrate exactly what our Special Constabulary does best; providing resilience to the force and support to our communities when it’s needed most. I’d also like to thank the employers across the county who released their staff members to perform their role of Special Constable. This has been a national effort and I’m thankful that so many people wanted to play their part in helping to keep the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland safe.”



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About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.


Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 


Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.


Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 


We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.


We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.


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