West Mercia Police had a vision to deliver a peer support model across the force to provide every police officer and member of police staff with additional support to complement the support and care they receive locally.
Peer support ensures that an individual can contact a peer who will provide support by listening and signposting to appropriate services which will support the wellbeing of all staff.
How it works
Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), has a peer support model based on comprehensive international research from Canada, Australia and America. This programme is available for any police force to enrol and undertake a set on online modular style training. By placing internal adverts for peer supporters and retraining existing ones, we were able to increase and provide a corporate level of training for all of our peer support cadre.
As the programme is provided by Oscar Kilo, there is no budgetary requirement for the training. There is a requirement for a peer support coordinator. Their advice is that this is a full-time role but we have included it within the role of health and wellbeing lead.
The programme is really easy to implement – simply contact Oscar Kilo from their website and they will be in touch with the link to the training, a full explanation of the programme and advice on how to provide the training will be received.
West Mercia have increased the number of trained peer supporters from 12 to 34 with 70 more in process of training. This has meant that there is a much wider range of support in place for all staff at all ranks and grades rather than sending everyone to our welfare officers, who are rapidly becoming overwhelmed due to COVID related mental health referrals.
Those trained are much more aware of their own health and wellbeing and therefore more likely to seek help earlier and less likely to reach crisis point and ne absent through sickness.