Anne-marie was on duty when she was injured. Still serving in Thames Valley, she now relies on a wheelchair and has had to adapt to her new situation.
The day we lost eight people on the M1 in a horrific road accident was the day I found out that the full request for my home adaptions had been granted. I’d been the custody inspector and when I came home from work I was absolutely drained. I was over the moon, but totally exhausted from the day.
I use a wheelchair because of my injury, and I needed to have a kitchen and bathroom that was more accessible. I couldn’t get my chair totally into the kitchen so I couldn’t cook. I once clipped the oven door with the foot plate, and glass went everywhere. The upstairs bathroom situation was the most dangerous. I couldn’t step into the bath and had to use a transfer stool. That was the whole drama: where would you be when you fell?
After seeing posts asking for Police Care UK Ambassadors around the station, I got in touch with the charity to ask if they could help me. Because I was still working, grants from the council were out of the question and I didn’t have the resources to fund work myself. I then submitted a form and that’s when I became aware of Kerensa and Paul. They helped me understand how reasonable my request was – was I asking for the right things, was my request future proof? A buddy guiding you through the process is what the Ambassador becomes, which is the best way of making sure everybody gets what they need.
The difference the adaptations to my house has made has just been overwhelming, almost to the point of tears. I can prepare food in a way that everybody else does but I couldn’t. The kitchen is all about nutrition, understanding what makes you well and what keeps you away from depression. It is the place to sit and talk and be. It’s hard for you to imagine how spectacular changes there can be.
I’ve done so many things around the force and lots of people know who I am, so if Kerensa and Paul use me as an example of a person that Police Care UK has helped, then I’m happy with that. I want people to realise that ordinary people can have issues that become extraordinary, and you often don’t see until they become obvious. Sometimes those issues aren’t just a wheelchair, they can be mental too.
I was someone who was reluctant to ask for help. I thought my situation wasn’t bad enough or that I shouldn’t get it. Workplaces are often not a disability friendly environment too and sometimes people can feel reluctant to out themselves, but there are people who need the services that Police Care UK offer. All things are possible if you ask.
Support volunteer Kerensa’s story
Kerensa is a serving Public Protection Officer in Thames Valley and is one of our longest serving ambassador and support volunteers. She works with ex.Thames Valley officer Paul in promoting the work of the Trust and helping those in need apply.
This year is my twenty-first year of working for the police and I have spent the majority of my career working in a specialist unit that manages registered sex offenders. This is a high risk and high demand role which has previously impacted on my own health and wellbeing, and sadly during my career I have experienced the loss of colleagues through suicide, including my own line manager. It’s no secret that I’m passionate about improving mental health and wellbeing in the police service, which is why I wanted to volunteer with the Trust.
I first met Anne-Marie at Aylesbury police station. She had sustained an injury on duty which meant she was restricted to using a wheelchair whilst at work and had requested a grant to have a wet room fitted, with other adaptations to her home. I went through the application forms with her, sent them off, and then Claire asked if I’d go and see her at home.
My first visit was emotional, seeing the conditions Anne-Marie was living in, with no easy access to her bathroom or kitchen at all. It was so wrong to think that a serving inspector couldn’t even access her own bathroom to shower at the end of a shift.
She needed our help and after I reported back to Claire, Anne-Marie contacted me over the moon telling me that the funding had been granted. It was a bitter sweet day for her as she’d spent the day dealing with a horrific road traffic accident with multiple fatalities, but she was so happy that the work would be funded. It is rewarding knowing that you’ve been instrumental in a process that made someone else’s life better, with the simple thing of being able to shower.
Anne-Marie has written a short piece about her experience and how the Trust has helped her which Paul and I use as handouts when we do our presentations; it comes straight from the heart and when you read what she’s written about her injury and how we’ve helped her, it’s really impactive. It’s also given us a tangible, local example of how the Trust has helped a Thames Valley Police officer in need, which puts a real personal touch on the work we do for the Trust.
We also went to Flint House last month and there were two physiotherapists there who had treated Anne-Marie after her injury. Knowing that she was getting help beyond the centre and that her house was fit for purpose was great for them and gave them a final bit of closure.
It’s been great to build a relationship with Anne-Marie, which reinforces the reasons I wanted to become a volunteer.