Training course aims to help Fed reps better support members

3 Mar, 2020

All the Force’s workplace Federation representatives are being offered a training course to give them a better understanding of the various organisations that can provide wellbeing support for officers.

The training, which will take place next month, has been organised by Cheshire Police Federation’s wellbeing and equality lead, Dan Lever, and aims to make it easier for reps to signpost any member needing extra support to the most appropriate body.

“There is a wellbeing element to everything that we deal with as a Federation,” says Dan, “Whether we are supporting an officer through conduct or performance proceedings, dealing with an equality issue or perhaps offering advice on regulations, there will always be some kind of emotional impact on the officer involved.

“We are encouraging members to talk more about how they are feeling and also trying to increase awareness of the signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health.

“We want officers to reach out to those who they may feel would benefit from some help and signpost them to the many organisations, including the Police Federation, that can offer that support.

“Federation workplace representatives are the ones who are out and about within the Force and can be the first point of contact for officers who find themselves suffering mental ill-health so we want to ensure they have a really good understanding of how the different charities and other support groups can help individual officers.”

The training, which will take place next month, has been organised by Cheshire Police Federation’s wellbeing and equality lead, Dan Lever, and aims to make it easier for reps to signpost any member needing extra support to the most appropriate body.

“There is a wellbeing element to everything that we deal with as a Federation,” says Dan, “Whether we are supporting an officer through conduct or performance proceedings, dealing with an equality issue or perhaps offering advice on regulations, there will always be some kind of emotional impact on the officer involved.

“We are encouraging members to talk more about how they are feeling and also trying to increase awareness of the signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health.

“We want officers to reach out to those who they may feel would benefit from some help and signpost them to the many organisations, including the Police Federation, that can offer that support.

“Federation workplace representatives are the ones who are out and about within the Force and can be the first point of contact for officers who find themselves suffering mental ill-health so we want to ensure they have a really good understanding of how the different charities and other support groups can help individual officers.”

The range of support services include:

• The Benevolent Fund, which can offer financial support to officers in need

• Oscar Kilo, home of the national police wellbeing service and host of the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework

• Police Care UK, which can offer practical, emotional and financial support for serving and retired police officers, staff, volunteers and their families

• The Police Treatment Centres, the registered charity providing two treatment centres where serving and retired police officers can receive physical rehabilitation after illness or injury and mental wellbeing support

• RedArc, providers of a telephone support service giving access to a personal nurse adviser for members of the Federation’s Group Insurance Scheme in the event of serious illness, bereavement, long-term disability, stress and other situations

• No1 Copperpot, the credit union that can help officers who get into debt and also encourage financial wellbeing through savings schemes

• The Welfare Support Programme, a joint initiative between the Police Federation of England and Wales and the Police Firearms Officers’ Association, that offers support to officers involved in Post-Incident Procedures (PIP), suspended from duty, served with gross misconduct papers or, following a consultation between the Federation and the programme, deemed to be in need of support.

Dan is also keen to raise awareness of the Force’s employee assist programme, offered through CIC.

“There is a wealth of support available through CIC including face to face and telephone counselling but many officers do not know that it is available to them so we want to address this and the reps’ training day will be a good starting point,” he explains.

Cheshire Police Federation has got behind the national Federation’s Hear ‘Man Up’, Think ‘Man Down’ campaign which aims to ensure officers’ mental wellbeing is taken as seriously as their physical health.

Launched at the start of February, the campaign urges officers to speak up if they are concerned about their mental health but, just as importantly, urges them to listen to signs that colleagues may be struggling.

“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘man up’ but what we should all be considering is whether a colleague actually needs some help, even if it’s just someone to talk to and share their concerns,” says Dan.

“Police officers are notoriously reluctant to open up about their feelings but bottling things up can be seriously detrimental to your health. When officers were generally double-crewed or they had police bars and canteens where they would gather after an incident, there would be an informal de-brief going on, officers would share their experiences and process some of the feelings they had around a traumatic event but we have lost that now and officers can feel isolated.

“It is therefore really important that we all look out for each other and rather than telling someone to ‘man up’ we need to acknowledge that, in fact, they could be at risk of mental ill-health. Intervening sooner rather than later could be critical. We are getting better at trying to help someone pick up the pieces when they have a mental health crisis but really we should be putting the emphasis on preventing these issues reaching crisis point in the first place. Just as with physical health, prevention is better than cure.

“We need to recognise the signs of changes to someone’s character. Are they talking less? Are they over-reacting to situations? We can all pick up these signals but we need to learn to act on them rather than waiting for someone to go off sick and then trying to get them back from what has become a massive crisis point which can take a very long time.”

JamieThompson

We have access to a vast number of support services.

The range of support services include:

• The Benevolent Fund, which can offer financial support to officers in need

• Oscar Kilo, home of the national police wellbeing service and host of the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework

• Police Care UK, which can offer practical, emotional and financial support for serving and retired police officers, staff, volunteers and their families

• The Police Treatment Centres, the registered charity providing two treatment centres where serving and retired police officers can receive physical rehabilitation after illness or injury and mental wellbeing support

• RedArc, providers of a telephone support service giving access to a personal nurse adviser for members of the Federation’s Group Insurance Scheme in the event of serious illness, bereavement, long-term disability, stress and other situations

• No1 Copperpot, the credit union that can help officers who get into debt and also encourage financial wellbeing through savings schemes

• The Welfare Support Programme, a joint initiative between the Police Federation of England and Wales and the Police Firearms Officers’ Association, that offers support to officers involved in Post-Incident Procedures (PIP), suspended from duty, served with gross misconduct papers or, following a consultation between the Federation and the programme, deemed to be in need of support.

“We want officers to reach out to those who they may feel would benefit from some help and signpost them to the many organisations, including the Police Federation, that can offer that support”

Dan is also keen to raise awareness of the Force’s employee assist programme, offered through CIC.

“There is a wealth of support available through CIC including face to face and telephone counselling but many officers do not know that it is available to them so we want to address this and the reps’ training day will be a good starting point,” he explains.

Cheshire Police Federation has got behind the national Federation’s Hear ‘Man Up’, Think ‘Man Down’ campaign which aims to ensure officers’ mental wellbeing is taken as seriously as their physical health.

Launched at the start of February, the campaign urges officers to speak up if they are concerned about their mental health but, just as importantly, urges them to listen to signs that colleagues may be struggling.

“We’ve all heard the phrase ‘man up’ but what we should all be considering is whether a colleague actually needs some help, even if it’s just someone to talk to and share their concerns,” says Dan.

“Police officers are notoriously reluctant to open up about their feelings but bottling things up can be seriously detrimental to your health. When officers were generally double-crewed or they had police bars and canteens where they would gather after an incident, there would be an informal de-brief going on, officers would share their experiences and process some of the feelings they had around a traumatic event but we have lost that now and officers can feel isolated.

“It is therefore really important that we all look out for each other and rather than telling someone to ‘man up’ we need to acknowledge that, in fact, they could be at risk of mental ill-health. Intervening sooner rather than later could be critical. We are getting better at trying to help someone pick up the pieces when they have a mental health crisis but really we should be putting the emphasis on preventing these issues reaching crisis point in the first place. Just as with physical health, prevention is better than cure.

“We need to recognise the signs of changes to someone’s character. Are they talking less? Are they over-reacting to situations? We can all pick up these signals but we need to learn to act on them rather than waiting for someone to go off sick and then trying to get them back from what has become a massive crisis point which can take a very long time.”

Jamie Thompson