Cheshire Police - our pledge activity

"We had reviewed our wellbeing agenda and had become aware that there was a greater emphasis on physical wellbeing than mental wellbeing and this led to us developing a more holistic approach. The Blue Light Programme came at an opportune time for us - the motivation for signing the pledge was to make a commitment to and embed this new focus on overall health and wellbeing into the organisation.

We conducted extensive research and realised that a great number of our service personnel were affected by work related issues which impacted on their mental health and was a main cause of absence.

To create a more sustainable workforce, we wanted to focus more on supporting the mental health of our personnel as part of a more holistic approach to wellbeing. The support systems already in place within the service were more often reactionary in nature, and the drive now is to provide more preventative support.

To this end, Cheshire Police Service have been working hard to develop and explore new approaches to supporting service personnel as part of our Wellbeing Agenda. We are committed to providing a structured and strategic approach, embedding new policies and procedures throughout our organisation, as well as providing access to a wide range of resources and training in and about mental health and wellbeing."

We've received positive feedback so far

"It's a sign of how well they have been implemented and supported by senior management. Our HR department, who instigated the Wellbeing Agenda and involvement with the Blue Light Programme, received backing for the approach from the very beginning, including the support of the Police and Crime Commission (PPC).

Service personnel are kept informed of all developments and are regularly consulted and this has meant that new initiatives are able to be fully embedded at all levels throughout the service.

The Blue Light Pledge Action Plan is seen as a live document that is under continual review.

We are cautious, however, not to become complacent. Our hope is to generate more conversations around mental health and wellbeing and enable all service personnel to feel more able to come forward and speak out about their mental health.

The positive feedback we have received so far we hope signals the start of a cultural shift throughout the service towards mental health and wellbeing.

Indeed each training course or event held has led to more personnel coming forward to volunteer to speak out about their own mental health issues or to pilot new schemes to address the needs of those with mental health issues."

This has led to a number of initiatives

  • "The creation of a Wellbeing Zone on the service’s intranet, which is split into the Management of Stress, Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Work-life Balance. Here service personnel can access a range of resources about these areas of wellbeing and are signposted to further external support through links to services such as Mind, Turning Point, and various NHS pages. Service personnel can also access self-help and peer support material, such as video blogs and case studies. 
  • As well as providing extensive access to resources, Cheshire Police Service has invested in a range of training initiatives. These include Managing mental health in the emergency services training provided by the Blue Light Programme, Resilience training and Unconscious-bias training. The feedback reported from these training courses has been extremely positive.
  • The training also ties in with the development of our Leadership and Wellbeing Conferences. The first of these focused on anti-stigma and included the personal stories of two volunteers who have acted as ambassadors to inspire others to volunteer to share their stories or take on new initiatives to tackle stigma. Indeed the enthusiastic response to these personal stories has meant that they are now regularly used at different events held by the service, and continue to draw praise for highlighting the issues that still surround mental health. A second Leadership and Wellbeing Conference is scheduled to examine unconscious bias and resilience and the hope is that it will be equally successful.
  • Cheshire Police Service has also embarked upon a Reward and Recognition Scheme as another way to value personnel for their work. It is hoped that this will also help to boost the overall wellbeing and morale of service personnel and includes both internal and external reward packages."

Signing the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge was never an issue

"Indeed it was seen as an obligation to show our commitment to the health and wellbeing of all service personnel. As a programme initiated by Mind, it seemed a waste not to be able to utilise the resources being made available to emergency services staff from a leader in the area of mental health.

Cheshire Police Service wants to be seen as a good employer who assesses the needs of its personnel and puts their health and wellbeing first. Signing the pledge was a symbolic act demonstrating this commitment to reassure all current and future personnel. Having taken the steps to implement a Wellbeing Agenda, we feel confident in our approach and want to stress the ease with which it is possible to implement the pledge.

We would be more than happy to share our experiences with others.

We hope to develop a network with other emergency services to share best practice and offer mutual support. Cheshire Police Service’s remit is to provide the best support possible to its personnel to enable them to provide the best support to the public whom they serve.”

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