Blog: Trauma awareness day for London’s blue light family

Published 10 Nov 2022
Written by
PS Catriona Darby and PC Victoria Walker
Metropolitan Police Service
Reading time
10 mins

Read this blog from our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police about their Shine Wellbeing multi agency trauma awareness day they held in October.

Do we all carry some sort of trauma? How does this affect all of us?

Police Federation have published a 57% increase in a year with colleagues being off work due to stress, depression, anxiety or PTSD.  Read report (

Covid was what brought us all together, we worked through one of the toughest years in history but we were strong because we did this together. Shine Wellbeing saw this and wanted to start a wellbeing community between all of London’s blue light families.

On Thursday 13th October 2022 our dream became a reality.

Shine Wellbeing is a small team run by police staff and officers for our blue light family that started in June 2018. It is managed in a voluntary capacity and wouldn’t work without the love and dedication of the team who are truly passionate about changing your lives for the better.

The foundation of Shine Wellbeing is about offering all police officers, staff and our blue light family the tools and techniques to improve their wellbeing. We can be exposed to many traumatic experiences in our roles that may deeply affect our psychological and emotional wellbeing. Shine believes an early intervention approach will equip us with the mental resilience we need to deal with any situation life throws at us.

Shine was proud to announce our guest speakers Dr Gabor Maté, Dr Jess Miller, Maureen Goodman and Ash Patel. Shine brought together our blue light family where we welcomed nearly 500 people from Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service, City Of London Police and British Transport Police for a wellbeing day for them.

Members of the shine team took to the stage to introduce themselves, the stories they shared really moved people on why we do this? We shared what has helped us on our wellbeing journey and why we are passionate on being there for London’s blue light services.

Shine volunteers understand that our colleagues experience challenging times which can affect their wellbeing. We pride ourselves on being relatable as we are YOU! Whether that be as a fellow officer or member of police staff or as a volunteer, we know what you are exposed to, the stresses and strains that come with being part of the blue light family, be it personal, professional or a mixture of both just know we at Shine are here for you.

Our first guest speaker was Dr Gabor Maté who has recently written a book called the “Myth of Normal” in which he explains how we all carry and react to our own personal traumas in ways we didn’t know where damaging. He started off by describing his own trauma and this was not what you might expect. Dr Gabor went on to explain his theory that he trauma we experience as a baby yes you read right what we are exposed to as a tiny human has an impact on us today.

Dr Gabor Maté also went on to say how it is common to have people who have experienced trauma in their early years are likely to become part of the blue light family. Why? Are we looking at finding some peace or explanation of what we have experienced? Are we justifying our experiences?  

Dr Gabor shared that his mother gave him up for his own safety being a Jew in Hungary he was too young to remember being given up as an 11 month old baby. But at the time his emotions remember that he was given away and he could not logically process the reasons for it but his mind had saved that emotional memory as trauma. He admits that even to this day this still has an impact on him and has spent his life battling with that trauma.

What trauma if any have we all absorbed?

This is fascinating as we are aware as adults what we are absorbing due to being acutely aware when we are at that scene or listening to one of the members of our community in distress, or listening and supporting each other on what we have experienced. Our brains have evolved and adapted so much that we process our exposure or do we?

The next question is how do we release the negativity we have absorbed? Just have a think here and can you identify what is your release?

It is not uncommon for any of us to find a release by gambling, consuming alcohol, over eating, under eating and internet shopping to name but a few. Addiction can be in many forms and where we know as police what is right and wrong we can form some unhealthy habits and attachments because we are human beings after all.

Victoria Walker shares her experience “I know a little about Dr Gabor from his podcast but to understand that his trauma affected him even though he couldn’t remember it was a breakthrough moment for me I had medical trauma when I was very small, and now I am terrified of hospitals, making my recent diagnosis almost impossible to treat. I was so small and I have no actual memory of the medical trauma that I can call on. However, this emotional memory that Dr Gabor Mate spoke of resonates strongly with me. This ‘emotional memory’ left an imprint and a very emotional response to any medical procedure today, where I feel I have no control."

So how do we protect ourselves whilst still being there for others?

This is where Dr Jess Miller gave a presentation on using TIPT (Trauma Impact Prevention Techniques) that can assist in helping our brain file away by trying to make sense of what is disturbing our peace. If we learn to process the trauma more proactively this will assist in influencing our ‘second nature’ in trying to deal with this another and maybe unhealthy way. Dr Jess Miller went on to explain how addictions might arise from what we are exposed to in our work environment, to help us gain an understanding Dr Jess Miller explained the different chemical reactions and how these give us an emotional response.

There is a practice you can do straight away… Mindfulness Meditation

Dr Jess Miller advised of the benefits practicing regular mediation. Meditation helps you to set up your day, it can help calm a busy mind before you sleep, and it can help you process, accept and make peace of your experience.

Dr Jess Miller’s findings highlighted the need for us in emergency services to feel three key areas are being met that being Safety, Satisfaction and Connection within her book The Policing Mind Dr Jess Miller explains some daily resilience techniques. We are very lucky to have Dr Jess Miller dedicating her studies in trying to understand how our brain as a blue light family member digests and evolves whilst we absorb the trauma we are exposed to and then helping us understand by developing prevention  techniques.

Ash Patel from the Brahma Kumaris shared his experience as a child and he was struggling to process the trauma he had been exposed to. Ash shared that the techniques he had been taught at the Brahma Kumaris one of them being journaling along with meditation has helped him on his wellbeing journey. Along with Maureen Goodman we were fortunate to be treated to beautiful guided meditations throughout the day to help us all absorb the knowledge that was being shared.

We were very honoured to have the world renowned Dr Gabor Maté, Dr Jessica Miller, Ash Patel and Maureen Goodman for giving up their time to help London’s Blue Light Family and we were beyond excited to be hosting this magnificent event in the most peaceful of places, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Centre. We cannot begin to express how grateful we are not only donating your time but also making this event a huge success, on behalf of everyone Thank you.

images from Shine event at the Met

About Shine

Did you know? Shine doesn’t just offer support, we deliver monthly workshops on alternative approaches in safeguarding your wellbeing, a twice monthly Oneness Café a safe space to come a have a chat and weekly meditation classes. From this event we are pleased to welcome British Transport Police to our Oneness Café. We are also looking forward to be working with Walk and Talk 999 in the future. If you want to know more get in touch with the team at Shine by email.

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