A Leicestershire Police control room worker has been recognised with a top national award for her work helping her local community.
Jen Dalton, who works as a Dispatcher in the Contact Management Department (CMD) at force headquarters, was a winner in the APD Control Room Awards 2021.
The awards recognise the selfless and unstinting efforts of emergency service control room individuals and teams who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect the public when they are most in need.
The awards, run by APD Communications, are the only accolades of their kind to celebrate the unsung heroes in control rooms across the UK and Ireland.
Nominations were received for 500 control room employees from almost 100 organisations.
Jen took first prize in the Award for Services to the Public category in recognition of her efforts in setting up a help group to support the elderly and vulnerable in her local community in Glenfield during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Covid pandemic hit, Jen and three other villagers set up a group to help the elderly and vulnerable in her community via Facebook.
It grew when she and other volunteers delivered 5,000 leaflets through doors in the village with an offer to help those who were self-isolating or in need of support.
Jen got in touch with pharmacies and the group started delivering prescriptions as well as parcels of food and other essentials to those in need of support. She also helped in setting up a food bank, which still makes weekly deliveries.
Jen (38) who has worked in CMD since 2006 said: “When I found out I’d been nominated I was a bit overwhelmed. I’m not the best at accepting praise or fuss and it felt a bit undeserved as so many people have been doing great things.
“I wanted to help those people I knew would be struggling because of the isolation or because they were vulnerable in some way due to COVID-19.
“We started with two or three volunteers but now we have a group of 56 volunteers who regularly help 268 people.
“We do everything from help people with their shopping, provide support parcels, changing light bulbs, call people who are lonely and help refer people into the right services if they need them. We have also helped in the setting up of a foodbank service. It’s been a huge team effort.
“Before the pandemic I was a local girl guide leader and part of a drama group. The pandemic ended all of that and I wanted to do something else to support the local community.
“I’d go straight from a 12-hour night shift to help at the foodbank or do shopping for people in between my shifts.
“I’m really grateful to all of my colleagues at work for their support and fundraising efforts and also really grateful to the community itself for pulling together like it did.
“Winning the award is really strange. I actually missed the moment they announced it because I had an IT glitch. I feel a little awkward as I don’t do it for praise. I do it to help people but when you sit back, it is a very proud moment and really lovely that people nominated me in the first place.
“In reality we came across many people in horrific circumstances that really needed help and support and reconnecting with society and I fear if we hadn’t helped them they may not have been here today.”
The judges said: “Jen has done a brilliant job helping the community during the pandemic by organising volunteers to help the vulnerable with various tasks, setting up a food bank and arranging parcels for those alone over Christmas. A great example of supporting the public in a very practical and caring way.”
Inspector Nick White, of the force’s Contact Management Department, said: “Ever since I’ve been working in this building I’ve been amazed by the amount of time Jen gives to others outside the organisation. Initially I became aware she was running a Girl Guides troop and then realised that she was completing shopping trips for vulnerable people in the community.
“I then noticed she was raising money for charities through dress down Fridays at work, baking cakes for other charities nominated by colleagues at work and also collecting food for food banks.
"Given that Jen works 12 hr shifts including nights and anyone who does that knows the level of fatigue you feel and how long it takes to recover, it takes a very special person to not only get up on days off after night shifts and work again but Jen’s work is simply to benefit others in difficult circumstances. She’s an amazing person with a big heart who continually puts others first and is truly deserving of recognition.”