At the beginning of the year, all of us at the PTC were confident that we were coming out of the Covid Pandemic and gradually returning to normality. What we had not factored in was that the next crisis was just around the corner when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. This was a very different sort of crisis from Covid but one that each of us has felt with rising fuel prices and indeed inflation across the board. It has also hit the PTC very hard with significant increases in our utility bills and other running costs. We are riding out the storm for now and have absorbed most of these price increases ourselves as we recognise that our Police Patients need our help and support perhaps more so now than ever. We will however, have to review our operating model for the PTC in 2023 to ensure that it remains financially viable and of course fit for purpose. At the moment, it is my intention that we will continue to run our class leading treatment programmes in their current structure and format in the most efficient way possible not making any cuts to the programmes to save money. We will of course continue to keep things under review within our five year strategic plan which provides a handrail for PTC activity, rather than committing us to a pre – determined course of events that does not survive contact with the next geo -political shock!
Having started on a rather somber note, I would like to emphasise the positives that have happened in 2022. We have now dispensed with the last remaining vestiges of Covid protective measures when we removed the requirement for Patients and employees to continue to wear masks for one-on-one treatment. There is still a non-judgmental option for either of those groups to wear a mask if they so wish but I do know that this change has been welcomed by most, signifying the end of what has been a very stressful and demanding period for many. I am confident that we at the PTC dealt with the Covid Pandemic better than many other organisations. We were routinely the last to close during various lockdowns and the first to re-open but it is most definitely a relief to see us coming to the end of this period that has defined our activity for well over two years.
The PTC is very much now back open for business but we are a long way from our normal levels of occupancy at both Centres. I do think much of this is down to a long extended Covid hangover making it much more difficult for our patients to get away from their place of work.
I would like to encourage all of our donors to apply to attend the Centres when they need to do so. It’s not always easy to take time away from work or your personal life but I can guarantee if you do come to the PTC for treatment on either of our programmes, your work and your personal life will always get a much better, fitter, happier you back with them. Although it is a big chunk of time to come to the PTC, it is most definitely worth the investment in yourself.
In my blog last December, I trailed the fact that we were in the process of changing the name of our other Charity, The Police Children’s Charity, to gain greater traction with our donors with name and brand recognition. To help the process, we have also added some additional benefits and Serving Officers can now apply for two new grants for their children for counselling and wellbeing. So far, both grants have been a great success. It is still early days and a bit of a struggle to get new donors signed up to The Police Children’s Charity. Although it is still too early to be certain, the sign-up rates over this year with new Student Officers to the Charity have risen from 28 % up to 42%.
The signs are therefore promising that the donor numbers will grow back up to the level that they were a few years ago. I do very much hope that this is the case as the The Police Children’s Charity really is a brilliant Charity with a fantastic range of benefits. It is heartbreaking to see a Police family miss out on these benefits because their main parent Police Officer or Police Staff donor had not signed up to the Charity, or even worse had done, but had since cancelled their monthly donations.
Honestly, I would have to describe 2022 as a mixed year. It started well with high hopes and then foundered with the fall out from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I do hope that 2023 will bring better news globally and politically. Whether that is the case or not, there is still much to look forward to from the PTC perspective. We have already opened up applications for the long awaited and much needed Retired Officer Wellbeing Programme, the first one of these taking place in January. Many of you will also be aware that we, in partnership with Police Care UK, ran three pilot Intensive Trauma Service courses at our Harrogate Centre. These courses were aimed at supporting those Police Officers dealing with high end trauma and they have been extremely successful. I am very pleased to say that we will be running a further eight of these courses in 2023 and if we can secure funding, we will hope to build these into the fabric of the PTC course schedule. We also have a number of other virtual courses that we are currently developing which we hope to deliver in the early part of next year. I am confident that these will be a welcome addition to the already wide range of treatment and classes that we run from the PTC and will have a meaningful impact on the health and fitness of those who wish to participate.
Thank you to all of our donors in 2022 whether you came as a Patient or did not come but continued to pay in. Policing needs the PTC more than ever. I think we all fear more austerity is coming in 2023 with the inevitable cuts to policing budgets. Some of these will be to those parts of the budget that support Police Officers and Police Officer physical health and mental fitness. There is also likely to be further pressure on those men and women who serve with distinction every day in the Police Service and a greater need than ever for the work of the PTC. If you are a donor, please keep on donating. If you are not a donor, please start donating and help us to help you.
In the meantime, thank you for all your support this year. For those of you working this Christmas, please stay safe and well. I do hope you get to find some space to relax and enjoy yourself with your family and friends over the Christmas and New Year period.
That is all for this month’s blog, stay safe everyone.
Patrick Cairns, CEO PTC