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Rachel's story

I was beaten down, I was massively depressed and I couldn’t talk without crying all the time. Thankfully, I don’t have those thoughts now, and it’s because of the support and funding that the Police Care UK has provided and I’ll be forever grateful.

Rachel’s story

I’d always dreamed of being a police officer since I was a child. I did work experience as a teenager and had tried to get in for more than fifteen years. And I was loving every minute of it.

In 2009 I was working at Hull Fair, Europe’s largest annual travelling fair. It’s a major event in the policing schedule and everyone pulls together to ensure a real family vibe. That’s why a male carrying alcohol caught my intention and so I went over. He was clearly intoxicated and became argumentative and abusive. After giving him a couple of chances to leave, a colleague and I eventually decided to arrest him. He struggled as I got hold of his arm and I ended up stumbling and being thrown backwards, landing on top of some metal railings.

When I got up I thought I was just winded and didn’t think anything of it at the time, but after that, I started suffering from a lot of neck and shoulder pain.  Over the next seven years, I suffered from constant pain. I had physiotherapy that wasn’t working. I would complain of feeling ill and having hip and knee pain. Then the chronic pain syndrome began. One day I’d be absolutely full of beans, the next I couldn’t walk.

Chronic fatigue set in and I was constantly up and down with depression. I was constantly put on action plans at work and told I needed to improve my attendance. I’d just get myself back on my feet in a nice place in a new team and I’d just start feeling better again, and then I’d be moved. There were a couple of times I even contemplated suicide. I thought my life was over.In June 2016 I eventually had the MRI scan and was referred to a neurosurgeon.  In April 2017 I was diagnosed with a bulging disc that was compressing my spinal cord. Occupational health told me I didn’t need to come back to work.

I was devastated. I’d tried to get into the police for 15 years. I’d even done my work experience with the police when I was 15. I thought, where’s my life gone? And more importantly, what do I do now?

I’d never heard about Police Care UK, but my solicitor told me to register. That’s when I found out about the retraining support available for people like me. I had to look for something where I could be self-employed. My injury and chronic pain syndrome can make me unreliable so I needed to be able to choose when I work. I’d fitted hair extensions and done a hairdressing course previously, so that’s what I decided to, focussing on hair loss.

Rachel creating new hairpieces and completing a micro pigmentation treatment

 

Thanks to a retraining grant from the Police Care UK, I’ve started my own business making wigs, integrated hair pieces, and providing micro pigmentation – a treatment for men and women that have little, or no, hair. I’ve begun to get noticed for my work and I’ve been contacted by two salons that do a lot of work with cancer patients. They’re interested in seeing how we can work together and I’ve also voluntarily made wigs for a local cancer charity to put into their cancer wig bank.

When Police Care UK said they could help me, I felt like I’d won the lottery. I suddenly stopped taking my medication. I didn’t need antidepressants because I thought I’m actually going to have some sort of direction. I work with some lovely people and I’m able to help people again.

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