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Members of the emergency services are at higher risk of experiencing mental health

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Emergency service workers are at a higher risk of experiencing a mental health problem. They are the least likely to seek support.

The Charity Mind conducted a survey which revealed that 9 in 10 (87 per cent) of emergency service staff and volunteers have suffered stress, low mood or poor mental health at some point.

Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best is the force’s ambassador for the Blue Light Programme – delivered by Mind to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from police, search and rescue, fire and ambulance services across England.

ACC Best said: “We have made a huge investment in wellbeing and it is very much a priority for us. Our staff deal with difficult and challenging situations on a daily basis and it is only natural this will have an affect on wellbeing. We want to make sure our workforce is supported and have the best possible support at their fingertips.

“Sadly some stigma surrounding mental health still exists. The nature of our job means a lot of our staff may need some form of support during their career. That is nothing to be ashamed of and we should not be afraid of talking about it.

“We work closely with the Blue Light Programme ensuring our staff have specialist support, we have Blue Light Champions across the organisation who are there to talk providing staff with the opportunity to speak with someone in confidence about what they are experiencing.

“Every champion has received specialist training to help support officers and staff when they need it.

“Creating lasting change in our approach to wellbeing is important to us. That is why we’re publicly offering our support to Time to Talk Day, being open about mental health and being ready to listen can make a positive difference to someone’s life.

“On Thursday, we will be encouraging our staff it is Time to Talk.”

Northumbria Police have released some steps to help officers. 

– Mindful Meditation Sessions have been held across the organisation by staff trained in mindful meditation techniques and as part of World Mental Health Day last October we worked in partnership with the NHS on their campaign #PeoplenotPlasters to show support for those facing mental health difficulties.

– Northumbria Police is leading on setting up a regional Blue Light Choir, in partnership between Sage Gateshead, NEMind, and the regional emergency services, after numerous research projects identified the benefits of singing on wellbeing.

– Regular wellbeing events, supported by charities and organisations who focus on health and wellbeing. The events provide advice and guidance to the workforce as well as opportunities to sample some of the services they can provide for staff.

– Appointing a Wellbeing and Engagement Manager.

Case Study

A police officer serving in the North East has opened up about mental health in a bid to get colleagues to talk about the strains of the job.

PC Karl Peterson was 40 years old when he joined Northumbria Police as a response officer – full of excitement at the potential of a future career protecting the people working and living in the North East.

He was posted to Southern Area Command where he thrived alongside the rest of his shift but seven years into his service the constant strain of dealing with blue light calls began to take its toll.

It wasn’t until he sought the help of Northumbria’s Occupational Health Unit (OHU) that he was able to get professional help from a counsellor and return to work as a Neighbourhood Beat Manager in South Tyneside.

Now Karl has made the brave decision to share his experience to try and encourage other members of the emergency services to seek support for any mental health issues they may experience.

He been appointed as one of Northumbria Police’s 30 Blue Light Champions who have received specialist training to recognise the signs of poor mental health in their colleagues and offer advice to those who need it.

Karl, who works in Hebburn and Jarrow Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “When I joined the police I felt alive with excitement and what the future held for me. I could not wait to get to work whatever shift I was on.

“But after a few years things slowly started to change. I felt like I was on an iceberg and it was slowly starting to melt. Eventually, after I had tried to patch it up a dozen or so times, I was left standing on a ice cube slipping into the water.

“I was nearly 50 and I was becoming very tired, I wasn’t sleeping, I was having arguments at home, arguments with supervision and I turned to drinking. I realised I had nothing more to give and little fuel in the tank to continue.

“The final straw was at the beginning of one night shift when my collar number was called on the radio. I started to shake, my heartbeat increased and I began sweating. At this point I knew I could not continue.

“I went to OHU and actually broke down. I realised I needed professional help and my turning point was when I fully engaged with a counsellor during one-to-one sessions. They helped me steady myself and eventually I returned to the station.

“We have excellent facilities at Northumbria Police and both the response and professional manner of the force’s OHU is what prevented me from leaving the job I strived so hard to get in the first place.

“Now I want to give something back by becoming a Blue Light Champion and giving my colleagues the peer support that was not available to me when I was at my lowest point.”

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URGENT APPEAL: TAKES 2 seconds to Share £100K Reward to find Missing Corrie Mckeague

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Corrie Mckeague has been missing since September

We need your help to share this appeal far and wide, it only takes 2 seconds to share.

Corrie’s mum faces a second Christmas without knowing what has happened to her son or where he is.

If you know what happened to Corrie you must come forward, if you are hiding information about what has happened to Corrie.

Someone out there must know what happened to missing Corrie Mckeaue. Please share this as far and wide as possible one person out there must know what happened or where Corrie is.

We are urging you to share this appeal as far and as wide as possible. We must know what happened to Corrie and ensure those who know are brought to justice.

His mum and brothers are now facing their second Christmas without Corrie, having met his newborn baby. He has simply vanished.

A £100K reward has been offered to find missing Airman Corrie Mckeaue who has been missing since September 2016

23-year-old Corrie Disappeared after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in September 2016.

Police have now finished searching a landfill site for his body and have found no trace of Corrie within the landfill.

Officers say they have “no further realistic search opportunities” at the moment.

Businessman Colin Davey has now doubled his £50K reward to £100K.

Corrie’s mother Nicola Urquhart shared the news of the reward on the ‘Find Corrie’ Facebook page.

She is ‘begging anyone with information’ to come forward.

“Today, Colin Davey has increased the reward for information that leads to Corrie being found to £100,000.

“I would fail miserably if I tried to find the words that describe how I feel about Colin’s generosity. We can never thank him enough.

“I would beg ANYONE who has information no matter how small they think it may be to come forward. There may be someone out there that thought that because the police were so sure Corrie was in the landfill that there information was not important so never came forward. Please do it now.

“If you have already left details with the police but feel you have not been taken seriously or ‘re contacted, please get back in touch with them and ask what they have done and if they need further information from you.

“Corrie is not in the landfill so something else has happened. It is impossible to evaporate one of these theories we have had from the start now must be what has happened. Please please help me to get as much information to the police as possible. Someone out there knows something.”

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Four Iraqis win damages against MoD following their treatment during invasion

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Four Iraqi Citizens have won a high court damages against the Ministry of Defence.

The case was relating to their ill treatment and unlawful detention during the invasion of Iraq.

It was heard that they were unlawfully imprisoned and ill-treated by British armed forces.

The Judge ruled that all four would be entitled to compensation under the Human Rights Act with one of those men being awarded more than £30K.

After Mr Justice Leggatt’s ruling, lawyers said the result of the four test cases could form the basis of settlement of more than 600 unresolved claims in what is known as the Iraqi Civilian Litigation.

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‘Trauma Teddies’ police officers give our teddies to children they meet at incidents they attend

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A scheme where police officers give a cuddly toy to young children they meet during their daily patrols has been expanded across the North East.

The ‘Trauma Teddies’ scheme was launched in September but was started as a pilot operation that just covered part of Newcastle.

It involved knitted teddy bears being stored in patrol cars of response officers so that they can hand it to young children they meet when responding to incidents.

They could be handed to children who were involved in a road traffic collision or to a young child who had gone missing.

In the last month, the scheme has received an overwhelming response from local communities with more than a hundred teddies donated across the force.

Now the decision has been made to expand the pilot forcewide so patrol cars in Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland will carry ‘Trauma Teddies’.

Chief Inspector Clare Langley has overseen the implementation of the scheme in Northern Area Command and said they could be a vital tool to help comfort young children.

She said: “This is a really fantastic scheme that has already had a number of success stories in Newcastle during the pilot.

“We have had an overwhelming response from the public and more than a hundred knitted teddies have been handed in by members of the public.

“It made sense to expand this scheme across the force as in the short time we have been running it we have found there is clearly an appetite to keep it going.

“Many of the children we come into contact with are scared, frightened and have never had any contact with the police before.

“Our officers are fantastic at comforting these young children but giving a child a teddy bear can be the thing that really builds a connection with them.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “I very much welcome this initiative to Northumbria. It recognises the effect a traumatic experience can have on a child and such a simple gesture is a step towards making a child’s experience less painful.

“Our officers sometimes have to attend devastating road traffic accidents or are called out to domestic incidents where a child has witnessed frightening scenes which result in seeing someone they know, and even love,
being taken away.

“A teddy won’t fix things but if it can help officers distract a child from what’s happening and offer them some comfort. I’m very thankful to everyone who has donated these bears – they will make a difference.”

Trauma Teddies were first introduced in Australia in a bid to comfort young children whose families had been left homeless by forest fires.

It was then adopted by the Red Cross to comfort young refugees before arriving in the UK when it was adopted by some police forces.

Victims First Northumbria suggested the scheme in the region and collected the first batch of teddies as well as producing a number of colouring books to hand out.

One of the early success stories includes a four-year-old boy who went missing and thought he was in trouble when he returned to see police at his house.

He was inconsolable until police handed him a teddy at which point his face “lit up” and he realised police weren’t just there to tell him off.

And last week a two-year-old boy was handed a ‘Trauma Teddy’ to comfort him after his mother was involved in an incident in North Shields and had to be spoken to by police.

Chief Inspector Langley said the teddies were really important to help show children at a young age that they could speak to their local police.

She added: “A lot of the work we do in schools and in our local communities is all about breaking down those barriers between children and police.

“We don’t want kids growing up with a negative view of the police and an opinion that our only role is to lock them up when they’ve done something wrong.

“This is about showing them that we are people to and that they can come to us whenever they have any concerns.”

Rachel Hardman, of Victims First Northumbria, said: “The Trauma Teddies appeal has been imperative in providing support to children across Northumbria.

“At VFN, we are keen to work with our partners to provide an excellent service to victims across Northumbria.

“Once a child receives a teddy and a safety colouring book, VFN receive a notification and we make contact with that family to provide support.

“This means that once the initial incident has been taken care of by our partners the Police, VFN can continue to provide independent support and coordinate a range of needs the family or indeed the child may have.

“We are really pleased and grateful for all the donations that have been received and are confident that the appeal will continue to be a success.”

Anyone who wants to help, or donate a bear, can get in touch by emailing either [email protected] or drop them off at their local station.

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