Ill-health retirement can be a difficult, traumatic, and emotionally challenging process to come to terms with.
That's why Police Care UK has launched a new pilot peer-support programme in the North West.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from the veteran peer-support programme, please complete this referral form.
We know from responses to the Injury on Duty research published by Police Care UK that police veterans who go through ill-health retirement have found getting the support they need difficult or non-existent.
Some comments from those affected include, "feeling thrown on the scrapheap", and "...[I'm] just a number...". Respondents also talked extensively about not getting the chance to fulfill their vocation. Others talked about the lengthy assessment and decision-making process that left them feeling isolated, vulnerable, and staring into the unknown.
Police Care UK cannot directly affect the process, but what we can do is better support those undergoing the ill-health retirement process, and use these lessons to influence future guidance on the process as a whole. Police Care UK believes that more attention should be given to those who are about to become police veterans, so that the same opportunities exist for all those leaving the service irrespective of circumstance or situation. That is one of the reasons why we have created the Police veterans peer-support programme.
In October 2019, 5 volunteers qualified as peer supporters having been trained by CiC , who lead peer support programmes nationally & internationally in complex, operational organisations.
The training provided skills on the 4 pillars of peer support:
Who are our Volunteers?
Our peer supporters have a range of policing experiences. They have worked within policing in various ranks across several forces /policing organisations in the North West of England. They are all retired, typically having left due to ill health and/or injury and were already providing informal peer support to ex-colleagues prior to volunteering with Police Care UK.
Their experiences allow them to empathise with those accessing the injured veteran peer support programme as they all have similar experiences themselves in terms of exit paths and the impact on professional and private life. Our peer supporters are independent from any force and can refer to any Police Care UK service as well as signposting where appropriate to other key partners. This service is confidential, unless there is are any safeguarding risks involved.
Initially, the peer support was offered across Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Lancashire areas. The evaluation showed great support to beneficiaries & improvements to Force processes – and we now offer peer support across Thames Valley in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire.
In the current isolation environment, peer support is being offered via telephone or online e.g. Microsoft Teams. This is being well received by beneficiaries across the NW.
In June, we held our first ‘On Line Group Meeting’ where all supported beneficiaries were invited to attend – in lieu of face to face meetings we had postponed due to Covid19
How To Apply:
If you are an injured police officer, either veteran or undergoing the retirement process, and would like some peer support then please register in confidence with Police Care UK via the below referral form, requesting ‘injured veteran peer support’ and we will be in contact.
Enable people to obtain practical information on how to cope, through the experience of others.
Reduce the feeling of isolation, through the provision of emotional support from peers and professionals.
Enable people to recover and rebuild their lives having transitioned from the service.
47% of respondents who left the police service because of an injury said it was a work-related psychological or mental health issue, and 35% said they were still experiencing PTSD. Veterans also cited issues relating to the support from line management whilst still employed, but many also felt that support was lacking once they had left the Police Service.
We are launching this service with a pilot region covering the North-West, that includes the Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and Lancashire area.
Why a pilot? This is an entirely new concept in the UK, and it is the first time that Police Care UK has run a peer-support initiative like this.
We are taking the learning from other successful peer-support initiatives, both here and abroad, that operate in policing and other areas, such as the military. But we are also wanting to understand the experiences of our volunteer peer-supporters, and those using this new service so that we know what works best, and how we can make this more relevant to UK police veterans.
It is our intention to expand this service so that, in time, there will be UK coverage of our veterans peer-support programme. We will update you more on this in summer 2020.
Having delivered the service across the North-West, that includes the Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and Lancashire area we are now testing it across Thames Valley – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire.
Why a test? This was an entirely new concept in the UK, and it is the first time that Police Care UK has run a peer-support initiative like this.
We have taken the learning from the NW trial and listened to the experiences of our volunteer peer-supporters, and those using this new service so that we know what works best, and how we can make this more relevant to UK police veterans. This has updated how our volunteer peer supporters work & their ongoing training alongside updating our processes and procedures – so the beneficiary journey is enhanced.
It is our intention to expand this service so that, in time, there will be UK coverage of our veterans peer-support programme. We will update you more on this in autumn 2020.