Blue Light Programme gets a boost

ourbluelight-284-x-214-pixels_websiteTodays blog is also published as part of my Column in the Argus Newspaper: As the shock and immediate reactions to the terrible Grenfell Tower disaster begins to subside for most of us who had no direct connection to the location or the incident it is clear that the name of the tower will not be erased from newspapers for some time to come. The practical issues such as building construction are one of the themes that has emerged, and the issues of how effectively local and national government responded and where the political as well as the professional buck starts and stops are others. A final theme in my own understanding has emerged albeit briefly on twitter and one blink and it would have been easy to miss. The Charity Mind has an important campaign page on their website which is entitled ‘Blue Light Programme – support for emergency service’. As the website goes on to explain “Our independent research shows that members of the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to seek support. Mind is delivering the Blue Light Programme to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from ambulance, fire, police and search and rescue services across England and Wales.” The website goes on to explain that on the 17th June the Government announced a £1.5M investment in the Programme following a number of incidents of national significance. I first spotted this on twitter but in the mix of demands for politicians and senior civil servants to resign and for sprinklers and cladding to be addressed it was not something that made much impact on social media. Anything that will assist people whose roles calls on them to run into places of potential or real danger is to be welcomed. Just as the Governments £5M for the residents of Grenfell Tower seems like a small amount when compared to many other Government initiatives, so too this £1.5M seems very modest. However it is vital that this £1.5m sticking plaster is not the only response from society and our Government. The fact that emergency service workers are less likely to seek support on matters of mental health than the rest of society suggests a more fundamental issue that needs addressing. Over many years I have had the absolute privilege of meeting many members of Sussex Police and East Sussex Fire and Rescue. I even know a number of workers in SECAmb. The vast majority of people I have met are people I would willingly turn to if things went wrong. However their ability to offer support does depend in large part on their own strength and wellbeing. Along with the excellent work of Mind we need to encourage those who lead such services at both an operational and governance level to ensure that the culture inside these services is constantly challenged in a way that ensures that next time research is carried out, that the tanker has started to turn around. Robert Peel famously said ‘the public are the police and the police are the public’ we need a public on both sides of the thin blue line whose care for their own mental health is a high priority.

About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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