Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom says the Welfare Support Programme (WSP) will provide an absolutely crucial service during the coronavirus outbreak.
She has therefore welcomed news that the 24/7 service it offers is continuing in full during the outbreak as officers come under more and more pressure.
“The WSP provides a critical service for officers during unprecedented times,” says Liz. “They could be subjected to many more death-related incidents due to the spread of COVID-19 and that could have a negative impact on their mental health as a result.
“That could be exacerbated if they are having to deal with issues at home with self-isolating loved ones, anxiety, home-schooling and financial challenges, the likes of which they may have never faced before.
“With colleagues off work, the Force could also be stretched with officers having to cover shifts and work longer hours. All of this can add up to put pressure on members and so I want to reassure them and say that the Welfare Support Programme is part of a range of services available to our members so they can access advice and support with whatever issues they may be facing.”
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) doubled funding for the WSP earlier this year and the helpline it offers is staffed day and night by professionals trained in police discipline and with an awareness of mental health first aid and Post-Incident Procedures.
Officers or close family members can be referred to the service, which is operated in partnership with the Police Firearms Officers’ Association, by a Federation rep and, if needed, given access to counsellors and coaches too.
Steve Hartshorn, the PFEW operational policing lead, said: “Police officers are human just like everyone else and when you are going through added stress at work and you’re unable to see your nearest and dearest it can be tough. Not to mention if your household has lost income due to a partner’s work drying up.”
Steve called the WSP an ‘enormously important resource’ for members throughout the UK and added: “To have access to trained professionals who can listen and provide non-judgemental, objective advice can be a lifeline – and in fact the service has already saved several lives. That’s why the Federation has put serious financial resources behind it.”