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Merseyside Police is marking Mental Health Awareness Week by celebrating the vital work of services looking after staff welfare today (Wednesday 11 May).
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy welcomed the Wellbeing Van, representatives from all eight staff networks and seven Shiba Inu therapy dogs to the force’s Rose Hill headquarters.
The day was supported by Oscar Kilo, the national police health and wellbeing service, and our internal Occupational Health Unit who hosted the wellbeing van to support health checks and queries from staff.
Also in attendance were healthcare provider Simply Health, Estate Planning who provide support with wills and power of attorney, a Welfare Federation Officer, the force’s clinical lead, and a physiotherapist.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “Our officers and staff spend so much time protecting our communities and caring for vulnerable people that we often see them allow their own wellbeing to take a back seat.
“But working for the police is a uniquely challenging role that exposes officers and staff to experiences, environments and information that the majority of the public are often, thankfully, shielded from.
“Officers are often required to run towards dangerous situations that most would run away from. They are under pressure all the time, not only from serious highly pressured incidents, but from the changing demands of day to day policing.
“We recognise how important it is that those officers and staff are supported, and have access to wellbeing services to improve their mental and physical health, as well as providing financial and other valuable support.
“This will in turn allow us to provide the people of Merseyside with the best service possible.”
The force’s Outreach Wellbeing Van travels to police stations and buildings across Merseyside offering services and support to all those working within the Force.
The van, which is kitted out with a bespoke wellbeing area to conduct physical and mental health checks, is funded by the Home Office through the Police Transformation Fund and overseen by the College of Policing.
It brings wellbeing direct to those on the front line and operates seven days a week, during and outside normal office hours, to ensure all staff are provided with an opportunity to visit the van and chat to the team.
It provides advice about physical and psychological wellbeing, financial advice and information, carers information and advice and support directly from colleagues representing our Staff Associations and Support Networks.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy added: “As well as being Mental Health Awareness Week, today is the National Day for Staff Networks, and it is only right that we celebrate the vital role they play in supporting the wellbeing of our staff and officers.
“Merseyside Police is proud to support our different staff associations and networks, who help ensure employees are confident and supported in work. They serve a dual purpose of providing advice and support to individuals as well as supporting the force to celebrate and recognise the importance of an inclusive culture.”
Staff and officers receive the specialist support of a range of networks that work with colleagues to create a more inclusive environment where all employees, that want to, can progress.
They include the LGBT+ Network; Disability Support Network; Focus on Race and Ethnicity (FORE); Gender Equality Network; Part-Time & Flexible Working Network; Christian Police Association; Catholic Police Guild and the Armed Forces’ Network.
Staff and officers at headquarters were joined by therapy dogs Prince Harry, Diva and Dennis the Menace – as well as puppies Jago, Umi, Guinness and an as-yet unnamed fourth puppy, on Wednesday.
The dogs visit police buildings to provide a moment of relief and relaxation for hard-working employees.
Community Policing Inspector Dave Uren, whose team were visited by the force’s therapy dogs following a number of gruelling shifts last year, said they helped improve morale among officers.
He said: “We faced a particularly difficult time in the days and weeks that followed the bombing outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital last year, and a visit from the dogs provided officers with some much-needed light relief.
“Our employees can often spend a lot of time away from their colleagues, and the visit of the dogs provided a great opportunity for everyone to get together and share a more joyful moment.
“Policing is a hugely rewarding but sometimes very challenging job, and we recognise that officers and staff need to take stock, and address their own welfare needs as well as looking after others.”