Police Covenant mental health peer support symposium: Round-up

Published 20 Oct 2022
Written by
Oscar Kilo
National Police Wellbeing Service
Reading time
5 mins

Representatives from Oscar Kilo, the Home Office and peer support experts from across policing, came together for a two-day event to discuss the benefits of peer support for mental health and how it supports the police covenant.

Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS) has identified mental health peer support as one of the key evidence-based building blocks that forces should establish to improve the mental health and resilience of their workforce.  

Over the last three years we have developed a high-quality training programme delivering the package to over 500 individuals who have delivered locally to almost 2000 more across UK policing, developing and instilling good practice in forces and through staff associations.  

Andy Rhodes, Service Director NPWS said: “The covenant is seeking to remove any disadvantages the police workforce may have as part of their job, and we know the job can be tough on our mental health. Peer support events like this are an opportunity to showcase what is already happening and get feedback from frontline people about where the covenant could do more.” 

This two-day event brought together representatives from across policing who are involved in delivering peer support, they had the opportunity to share good practice to reinforce how vital an intervention peer support is. 

Lee Taylor, peer support trainer for the National Police Wellbeing Service said: “It is estimated up to 600k days are lost in policing each year due to psychological illness. Peer supporters are trained to notice changes in their colleagues and listen, without judging, without criticising and in confidence. They can start a conversation and are trained in signposting and referrals.” 

We heard from Dr Esther Ingham, a chartered psychologist from Merseyside Police, about how Merseyside have built their peer support scheme programme, with not only peer supporters but peer support champions and co-ordinators supported by occupational health and are now ensuring peer supporters are in every area of the business. 

Dr Tony Parnell, clinical and counselling psychologist talked about the future of peer support and how we are starting to develop new resources for forces to use locally to help with their peer support programmes. 


Chesford grange event Oct 2022


Other inputs included:

  • An overview of the covenant and why it has been established. Delegates discussed and shared ideas on what the covenant will focus on going forward, how individuals transition from the police service especially into retirement and what support should be given to families. 
  • An update on the work of the OK9 wellbeing and trauma support dogs and how their handlers are involved with peer support. 
  • The Oscar Kilo NPWS Outreach team were recognised for their dedication, hard work and flexibility to ensure our wellbeing vans are there for you when you need them. This was also a chance to celebrate the milestone of over 50,000 individuals visiting the vans. 
  • There was an informative session by retired Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble and his colleague Dr Ceri Jones, clinical and counselling psychologist, around their new Resilient Senior Leaders – Police Superintendent programme which is looking at how peer support can ensure the transition out of policing can become easier.
  • Peer Supporter PC Sean Burridge from Surrey and Sussex Police bravely shared his PTSD journey, what the impact was on his work and family life and how this experience brought him to become a peer supporter. 
  • Dr Ian Hesketh, SRO for the NPWS gave an overview on how we work closely with specialists and experts from universities and businesses to ensure all our projects follow best practice and are evidence-based. 

The event concluded with the Oscar Kilo 2021 Award winners sharing details about their projects and how they have made a difference to wellbeing locally and nationally. Read about the Oscar Kilo Awards.

Find out more

If you wish to know more about our peer support training use the button below or contact us.

Peer support for wellbeing

What is the Police Covenant?

The Police Covenant is a recognition by government, policing and society as a whole to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who work or have previously worked in our police forces. It is intended to ensure that officers, staff, volunteers, and their families are not disadvantaged as a result of their service in the police and seeks to mitigate the impact that this may have on day-to-day life. 

In practical terms the covenant will:

  • place a legal requirement on the Government to report annually to Parliament on issues relating to police welfare, wellbeing, and support 
  • aim to improve the working experience of people in policing 
  • help smooth the transition out of policing for police leavers 
  • provide support to the families of those working in policing