Blog: Using a wellbeing van through the pandemic

Published 20 May 2020
Written by
Inspector Phil Spencer
Wellbeing and Blue Light Co-ordinator
Reading time
5 mins

In this blog, Inspector Phil Spencer from Cleveland Police tells us how they made use of one of our wellbeing vans to support their staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

“How could we reach our staff and be ‘innovative’ throughout the pandemic,” we asked ourselves?

Our wellbeing manager Michelle then suggested: ‘Do you think we could use one of the Oscar Kilo vans to be proactive and reach out to our staff? “Leave it with me,” I said … and after a few phone calls I’d booked one of the fantastic Oscar Kilo wellbeing vehicles, to support our officers and staff.

We wanted to ensure we could reach as many of our staff as possible, across different force locations and at different times whilst, adhering to government guidelines on social distancing. A three week ‘rota’ was devised which incorporated our five main headquarters with visits planned in for days, backs, nights and weekend shifts to maximise coverage.

It was quite easy to follow the social distancing rules, as when the van awning was up it created a natural barrier and we used police cordon tape, tied around the legs, to stop people getting any closer. Officers and staff who attended the van queued using social distancing whilst only one person was allowed into the van at any one time.

Once we had sorted the logistics we needed to decide how we were going to use the van and what resources should be available onboard.

Everyone likes a ‘freebie’ don’t they? Our wellbeing team had already invested in giveaways such as: wellbeing pens, wellbeing USB sticks, wellbeing bottles, but by far the most popular item was the stress ‘policemen’ and the stress ‘police cars’ – I could not hand them out quick enough.

We also had some great items from our partners: Police Mutual ‘sporks’ were extremely popular along with Police Care UK mugs, trolley tokens and many other items. Oscar Kilo also very kindly donated some ‘freebies’ which were very much appreciated.

We had some refreshments on the van including chocolate, crisps, biscuits, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks. These items were greatly received, especially by staff on scene preservation.

The van was loaded with loads of support information and leaflets from many different organisations including: Oscar Kilo, Police Care UK, Police Treatment Centres, Call 4 Back Up, Mind Blue Light, Police Mutual and some from our internal wellbeing team. We also had information from a local perinatal support group during maternal mental health awareness week at the beginning of May.

All materials, giveaways and snacks were kept boxed and clean and handed out on request to avoid any possible contamination.

During the deployment almost 400 people visited the Oscar Kilo van, many of them initially came for a ‘nosey’ or to grab a ‘freebie’ but they all went away with information on how we support their wellbeing, self care advice and where they can access further help and resources.

I had some really in-depth ‘informal’ discussions about wellbeing and mental health and was able to offer support, advice and point people in the right direction if they needed any extra help. It definitely broke down barriers with some around the stigma of mental health and wellbeing, and staff were really appreciative of the fact that we had made a special effort to come out to them. I had conversations with some supervisors about issues and was able to email them further information immediately via my works laptop which was with me in the van.

The comments and feedback we have received has been really positive, here are a few.

  • ‘What a great idea – well done and thanks’.
  • ‘It is really good to see that wellbeing is a priority and that we are actually being thought about’.
  • ‘Just a quick email to thank you for coming out last night with the van’.
  • ‘Personally, I got a coffee in my mug which took me through to midnight as well as crisps and some chocolate’.
  • ‘Other officers benefited from your services as well last night’.

I think that just by being out in the van and offering something ‘different’ has gone down really well with our officers and staff. It gave me an opportunity to get across the Force area and speak with people who didn’t know what services internally and externally were available to them. It was also brilliant to get lots of positive comments from other forces and organisations via social media.

To find out more about the Oscar Kilo wellbeing outreach service and how to book a van click below.

Go to wellbeing outreach service

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