The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is kicking off 2020 with a renewed commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of our members.
The National Board has doubled the funding we give to the Welfare Support Programme (WSP) – a helpline for police officers and their families who are going through life-changing circumstances. The increased spending of up to £375,000 takes effect from, 1 January 2020.
It will provide for a team to run the helpline around the clock, 365-day-a-year, not only responding to callers but also making proactive calls to officers who are referred to the programme by their Federation representative, and a bespoke counselling service.
PFEW National Chair John Apter said: “It is really important that the Federation not only talks about the mental health and wellbeing of our members, but that we also do something to help. That is why I am incredibly proud that we have invested this considerable amount of money into bolstering the WSP.
"We know that policing is tough and challenging but what is sad is when officers who are in really dark places for whatever reason don’t feel that they’ve got anywhere to go. The WSP helpline is one of the places where vital help and advice is available – it is there to compliment and strengthen the other initiatives that are out there."
Mr Apter said the results of the WSP to date show that it "absolutely is a lifeline in times of crisis" and he urged officers to contact their Federation representative in the first instance if they would like to know more about it or believe it could help.
He added: "My message to colleagues is, if you are struggling and going through a difficult time then know you are not alone. If the WSP isn’t right for you there will be something that is, whether it’s the Blue Light Programme, whether it’s the Police Care UK programme, or your in-force employee support programme, there’s support out there."
Staff who run the helpline have had training in police discipline, Post Incident Procedures (PIPs), and are certified in mental health first aid. In the three years since it was set up, the helpline has been able to support more than 1,000 officers and saved at least six from taking their own lives.
The Police Firearms Officers Association (PFOA) administrates the WSP using its extensive experience in supporting officers and together with the PFEW created the Welfare Support Programme.