Meet the incredible Manc – and his dog – who volunteer their time to stop crime in their community
We all know how important community is, whether it’s sharing a BBQ with your neighbours or calling on each other for help.
But how many of us are so proud of our communities that we’d dedicate our lives – and all of our free time – to protecting it?
One man in Droylsden does exactly that, spending 365 nights a week patrolling the streets, keeping an eye out for disturbances and burglaries.
This is Andy (and his dog Shadow) from Crimewatchers, a project he set up in 2020 to help tackle crime across Droylsden and Audenshaw.
The work of Crimewatchers has evolved since then, and is now a valuable scheme supporting people from all walks of life.
Andy will never turn away a vulnerable person in need, or from his neighbourhood, from helping out with litter picking to arranging Easter egg hunts for local children.
They can arrange to have free locks fitted for vulnerable people, help elderly neighbours who have had a fall, and hand out selection boxes at Christmas.
From 11pm every night of the year, Andy and his beloved German Shepherd Shadow are out helping others, no questions asked.
Andy said: “Every single night. Bank holidays. We’ve just worked all Jubilee Weekend. We’ll work Christmas, we’ll work New Year, we’ll work it all.
“We help anybody who needs it. Sometimes we find people who need help when we’re out patrolling, other times people get in touch with us – and if we can help them, we will.
“We’ve not got enough people to patrol outside Droylsden and Audenshaw but that doesn’t mean we’d turn down a request for help from outside that area.
“The community have got us to where we’ve got to, their response has been amazing.
“As you can imagine at first, the police were quite concerned about who we were and what we were up to at night, but the community 100% had our backs. Everything we’ve done, the community have supported us.
“It’s going from strength to strength and that’s because of the residents.”
As much as Andy helps others, he receives plenty of love in return, which was never more apparent than when his old dog Sabre died.
He said: “Everybody loved Sabre. He was the boss, the leader of the group. Without Sabre, I wouldn’t have got Crimewatchers off the ground. People really took to him and his nature. We came as a duo. When he passed away, it was really sudden and instant.
“But the community really rallied around me, in an instant they set up a GoFundMe and raised over £2000 for me, so I could get a new companion.
“Shadow is a community dog. He lives with me but I see him as part of the community. Everybody loves him, just as they did with Sabre.
“Somebody attempted to stab me a few nights ago and when I posted that on Facebook it got a lot of engagement – but then a video of Shadow will get two million views. People love him.
“He’s not a working dog. He patrols with us but as a pet.
“When I get called to a job, especially if someone’s being aggressive or there’s a situation, I’d never get him out of the car. He’s not a deterrent, he’ll never bite anybody, he’s not an attack dog.
“Shadow will just sit there, not barking, just watching – he would never do anything, he’s a pet and a mascot and a friend. I’d never put him in danger.”
One of Andy’s fondest memories from his work with Crimewatchers is when he was called out to help an elderly man who had had a fall and couldn’t get up, but was unharmed.
He said: “His Mrs rang us and said it’s not an emergency but she really needed help and didn’t want to call for an ambulance.
“He was at his most vulnerable but they trusted us to come into their home and help, and that is massive for us.
“It was no effort really, we were already out and about, but for him, on the floor and not knowing when he’d be able to get up, it was huge.
“That kind of support – the fact that people can call someone when they can’t get hold of family in the middle of the night and they don’t want to call 999, they know they can ring us. That’s amazing.”
You can find out more about Andy and Crimewatchers with our latest instalment of Local Heroes.
You can also donate to them through their Facebook page.
Featured image: The Manc Group