90 days from today is Wed, 22 May 2024
Jess contacted the federation during a very difficult period of her life. She was diagnosed with depression, as well as the ongoing peri-menopausal state of the menopause.
Jess was struggling to keep up with the increasing demands of complex and serious investigations her role demands, and was experiencing difficulties keeping up with complex file preparation for cases at court. She underwent a full dyslexia assessment, which highlighted some key areas where she was struggling, including reading complex documents and processing information.
This gave her some reassurance, and she says, “I fell on the federation because I’d been feeling isolated and alone”. Jess was offered a wellbeing break at the PTC in Harrogate, and together with the support she received from the team, says “it transformed my life”.
Jess accepts that on a professional level, there is a limit to how far the support of the federation can go, but it helped. She was then able to concentrate on her health and getting herself back to work.
She says, “It’s reassuring to have someone fight your corner when you are feeling so vulnerable and isolated. Lisa was very supportive and was able to speak for me when I was unable to. She remained professional at all times. I wouldn’t have an problem contacting the federation in the future”.
Jess is not this service user’s real name.
For more information on Police Treatment Centres, click here.
In December 2013 Jen was on duty, patrolling in a police vehicle during a seasonal Drink Drive campaign. Jen began pursuit of an uninsured vehicle. As she approached a two-way junction, a vehicle came out into the road directly ahead of her, the driver at the wheel hadn’t seen or heard her approach. She hit the car, side on.
Jen returned to duty immediately. Some days later, she was informed her that the driver of the other vehicle had died. She was devastated.
Jen spent Christmas at home on advice from her GP, awaiting information about what would happen next. In January, she returned to work, but in her own words, “really struggled”. She felt isolated and ignored, not knowing what would happen next.
This is when she contacted the federation, and was allocated a solicitor who met her at her home. She wasn’t required to make a statement at this time, and this left her feeling very uncertain about process, and feeling unsupported, but as a member of the Group Insurance Scheme, she was offered counselling.
Whilst the investigation continued Jen felt ill informed about what was coming next, she says, “It was just as if nothing had happened, and I was really, really struggling at work as a result.”
In April 2014 she was served with notices, for driving with undue care and attention. She was interviewed under caution and gave her statement. In car evidence was also examined at this time. This was a very low point for Jen, and she felt had to “prove her innocence”. She was banned from driving at work during the investigation, and moved into an interim role.
At the inquest, Jen gave evidence and was represented and supported by the federation, and was grateful for the presence of her Chief Inspector. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by traffic collision. The coroner apportioned no blame on Jen for the death of the other driver.
At the end of July 2014 Jen was informed of the decision that there was no case to answer for any formal misconduct.
Three years later, Jen was returned to a driving role in a new team. Her symptoms of PTSD heightened, with fears about safety top of mind. She had recurrent nightmares, acute symptoms of anxiety, and worried all the time.
In September, Jen once again went to seek help and advice, from an past colleague, and from the federation. This time, she worked with Lisa Davies and says simply, “Lisa was brilliant. She said, we need to get you out, and do whatever it takes”. With help from the federation, a temporary role was identified. In March 2017, Jen took up a new, non-driving role.
We asked Jen, “What advice would you offer to a colleague based on your experience?”
She said, “Reach out, that’s what the federation is for. I felt isolated and really struggled for too long, not knowing what was going to happened to me, or when. With hindsight, I do wish that the federation had contacted me right away, because it was a very distressing time. But once I had their support, things started to get better. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for the help I received.”
Jen is not this service user’s real name.
For more advice on legal exemptions and representation on driving related cases, click here.
Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016.
When she joined the police, Helen chose not to join the Group Insurance Scheme. As a young single woman, her focus wasn’t on how she might cope with a serious illness from a financial perspective. She says, “becoming a wife and mother changed my priorities and with hindsight, I should have re-visited membership of the GIS some time ago.”
As well as the psychological trauma, Helen found that her illness introduced some very significant and unexpected challenges. For example, she’s unable to get life or travel insurance now, at least for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the financial impact from the loss of overtime and shift allowance were unwelcome consequences, which would have been easily negated by the membership of the GIS.
Helen says, “although most people don’t expect to have to deal with a serious illness during their lifetime, the importance of financial resilience in such circumstances can’t be overstated.” With or without the protection of the GIS, Helen would urge anyone in a similar position to contact the Police Federation without delay.
She adds, “I have a week at the PTC planned during the autumn, which will be a welcome break from the often competing pressures of life and the legacy of such physically demanding treatment.”
Although it’s too late for Helen to join the GIS, she would urge anyone who isn’t yet a member to give it some serious consideration.
Helen is this service user’s real name; she is sharing her story to help others who may have doubts about joining the GIS.
For more information on Critical Illness Insurance benefits, and the Group Insurance Scheme, click here.
Jack describes himself as having a lot of resilience, and at times in his life, “feeling invincible”. He’s always held the belief that everything is going to be OK, and has never allowed himself to feel vulnerable in any work or life situation.
Two years ago, he began experiencing signs of anxiety and low mood, and found it increasingly hard to function on any level for much of the time. His sleep was becoming very disrupted, and he was waking during the night with his heart pounding.
He says, “It felt like a pressure valve was about to burst, I just didn’t feel like me”. He decided to take a brave step, and go and talk to his line manger, who was very supportive. He broke down, and was in tears, but the meeting went well and Jack was sent home to relax. He was absent on sick leave for nine weeks.
Within two weeks, the federation contacted him to see how he was feeling, and a home visit was arranged. Jack was offered an overnight trip away, to help him detach from what had been happening to him. He was also referred for some counselling sessions, which he attended weekly. He found them to be impartial, supportive, and a great sounding board to talk everything through. When the first six sessions were completed, Jack was offered further funding by the PFOA to continue.
Jack also self funded a Mindfulness course, where he learned more about how to identify how he was actually feeling, to relax, and to give himself permission to “chill”. During this time, the federation stayed in regular contact, checking in with him every couple of weeks.
A year or so later, Jack began to feel isolated once more. His shifts involve long hours and lone working, and he says this gave him, “too much time to think”. His symptoms of anxiety and low mood returned. His GP referred him for a course of CBT, (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). He completed six sessions, but didn’t feel much benefit from it.
Instead, he decided to contact RedArc, and after a phone consultation with one of their trained nurse advisors, he underwent further counselling sessions. He says, “I didn’t want to be off work; I like the structure it gives me.”
We asked Jack, what advice would you give to someone who might be experiencing difficulties with their mental health?
He said, “If your feelings are too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say, I need help. Once you make the leap of faith, you’ll never look back. You can change your life for the better.”
Jack is not this service user’s real name.
For more advice on mental health and wellbeing issues, click here.
Early in 2017, Dave was involved in an incident where a member of the public suffered serious, initially believed to be, life threatening, injuries. This resulted in an immediate post incident procedure late at night, which developed into a long and very intrusive investigation for Dave.
Having never been involved in such a procedure, and in shock from the incident itself, Dave arrived at HQ to find that a Federation provided solicitor and a Fed Rep were already present to look after both his welfare and legal interests.
He says, “I was given advice, reassurance and support at what was a very unpleasant time, which was of great help.”
In the following days, especially after being notified that he was now suspect in a criminal investigation, the on-going support and legal advice he received was, was “invaluable.”
Dave found counselling, support, and welfare contact with his Federation rep a real help. The federation also helped to organise some much needed respite time for Dave at the conclusion of the investigation, which found that he had no case to answer.
Dave says, “although one never likes to see deductions from the bottom of the payslip, I hate to think how things would have played out had I not been a Federation member, without my interests being taken care of.”
Dave is not this service user’s real name.
For more advice on legal exemptions and representation on driving related cases, click here.