24 June 2021
Danni Threader is 35 and has been a police officer with Gwent police for 11 years. Before taking up her post in April of 2021, she was a front-line officer and a Fed Rep. As one of the few full time Wellbeing Officers in the country, Danni’s position was made permanent by the deputy chief, Amanda Blakeman, as a part of a big push on wellbeing across the force.
“Coming into this role from full-time, front-line policing has been a huge change. I went from dealing with shoplifters to arranging care for people and reading up on sick and injury legislation to assist colleagues. It’s a whole different world – but I’m so proud to be here. After all, I know how important wellbeing care is.
I was diagnosed with PTSD myself in 2019. I’d seen the most horrible side of human life: baby deaths, murders, rape. It all came to a head when I was giving CPR to a man and he died in my arms. Until then, like most coppers do, I’d been putting things in a box. But after the incident, it was like the box overflowed. I just wasn’t myself anymore.
I realised everything I’d been through had had a huge effect on me and I went through counselling and therapy to help process it. This inspired me to take that experience and use it to show other officers they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.
As a Wellbeing Officer, though I’m not a trained counsellor, I’m there to listen, show I understand, and point members towards help. Even if they don’t want the help, I’m always free to sit with them and have a cup of tea or coffee.
It’s not only about deaths or trauma, either. One of my regular duties is to check in on colleagues who are on long term sick or injury leave, so the Fed can help them back into the workplace. I also offer support to officers who are under investigation. All of these issues have a massive effect on wellbeing and relationships, and I can signpost members to the right services and help them out.
At its most basic, my job is about getting to know people and meeting them where they’re at. Wellbeing only works if and when it takes individuals into account. What’s right for me won’t be right for you – there are so many different factors to effective wellbeing care, from mental health to resourcing, to interpreting regulations.
I’m hoping some new ways of doing things during the pandemic, such as working from home, will continue or be adapted for those who’ve found it useful. Another project I’m looking at is the possibility of following South Wales’ lead and providing counselling for Fed reps.
I joined policing to help my community. Now, I can also help colleagues. I’m so lucky to have this position, and I’m really hoping other forces see what we’re doing here in Gwent and there’ll soon be many more Wellbeing Officers like me in England and Wales.