A blue light champion is a volunteer who take action in their department/organisation to help raise awareness around mental health issues and challenge stigma. They will promote, encourage and inspire by their example, through supporting others.
How it works
Initially launched in England in 2015, the programme was introduced in Wales following a campaign by Mind Cymru and the four Welsh police forces to encourage Welsh government sign up.
Key to the success of the programme is ensuring that you have volunteers who are empathetic, resilient and able to signpost individuals who seek support. South Wales Police therefore created a robust champion assessment process, managed by their human resources team, to ensure their champions fully understand the role required of them.
Comprehensive training was also provided, initially via Mind Cymru but since brought in house, to ensure champions are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to support their colleagues. They also regularly bring the champions together for training and information sharing opportunities, usually around twice a year and they are encouraged to engage as a network to share best practice.
To date, they have over 70 blue light mental health champions across the force, coordinated by our occupational health department. These volunteers undertake bespoke activity at a local level, such as surgeries or open door events, to highlight mental health services. They are also a powerful resource for coordinating strategic campaigns such as time to talk, mental health awareness month and world mental health day. We have developed a blue light champion page on our intranet, highlighting the role of the champion with a simple directory of volunteers so that those seeking help can identify a champion with ease.
The blue light champions are also extensively promoted through health and wellbeing resources such as leaflets, brochures and toolkits.