16 April 2020
News that the Welfare Support Programme (WSP) will continue to run its 24/7 service during the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak has been welcomed by Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
With the Force dealing with the unprecedented challenges faced by COVID-19, Tony believes it’s imperative that a service which was designed to support and care for officers remains as strong as ever.
“It is very important that the WSP is there to continue to provide critical support to officers at such a testing time,” says Tony, “As well as the possibility of working longer hours to cover colleagues who are self-isolating or unwell, there is also the possibility that officers will be dealing with more death-related incidents than they have ever been used to.
“They could be facing difficulties at home as financial implications of the lockdown hurt families and home-schooling provides its own unique challenges too.
“This is a time of stress, worry and anxiety for members so it is important they are supported more than ever by the Force and the Federation.
“The Welfare Support Programme is part of a range of services available to our members so they can access support, advice and a sympathetic ear during whatever issues they may be facing up to.”
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) doubled funding for the WSP earlier this year and the line 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.”