From further afield, our international reputation continues to grow. Mark Oxley, the PTC Head of Clinical Services, hosted a visit to our Harrogate Centre recently by Dr Manuela Joannou, the Medical Director from Project Trauma Support in Canada. The new Canadian programme addresses PTSD and operational stress amongst military personnel, veterans and first responders. Dr Joannou left us much better informed as to some of the challenges that we are currently dealing with and with lots of good ideas for taking her own project forward.
The Donor Engagement Team appear to have most of their year planned out with full diaries and we have already had 2 separate Board of Trustees meetings to reflect on some of the challenges of the year. Linked to this, it is obviously the time for retirements and changeovers of personnel because we have said farewell to Andrea Macdonald and Grant McDowall who were two very committed and energetic Trustees from the Scottish Police Federation. We are awaiting the arrival of their replacements for their first board meeting but have already welcomed Stewart Carle from the Scottish Police Superintendents Association as a new Trustee. There will be other new appointments in due course. We are always sad to see individual Trustees depart but this gives us a chance to refresh the Trustee team and to bring in new sets of eyes and perspectives. We are looking forward to the new appointees making their mark in due course.
The early period for this year has also provided the PTC with an opportunity to focus on some internal staffing matters including getting ready for our audit, doing appraisals and of course the CEO Question Time. I’m not sure whether it was me or the audience who were most relieved to reach the 7th and final CEO Question Time for this year!! We recognise that we are only as good as our people at the PTC and it does not matter how wonderful all our equipment and buildings are, they will not mean anything without the people behind them. This internal work was therefore an opportunity to engage with our PTC work colleagues, find out what they like about working at the PTC, and where they think we can improve. I know that we do not get it right all the time, but we are always keen to improve or work environment and terms and conditions of service. One of the ways of doing this is by listening to our employees and discussing any points that they might have through these internal meetings.
In addition to our normal activity, two significant events have occurred this month. Firstly, in what has felt like the longest build up to a building programme in history, we have finally started the pre-building works at the back of our Harrogate Centre for the new Clinical Services Wing. This is not going to arrive overnight but will be a 46 week build period when we start the main works, however, it is a relief that something is finally happening.
The second event of note was the re-naming of one of the wings at our Harrogate Centre, The PC Edith Smith Wing. For those of you that do not know, Edith was the first warranted female Police Officer in 1915 who helped to create the more inclusive talent based environment that exists within the Police Service today, where all ranks and all specialities are open to all genders. I think that it was significant that the wing was jointly opened by Lisa Winward who is the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire and a PTC Trustee, plus Baroness Angela Harris, our PTC President. It was a low key but formal occasion, well attended by some of our patients in residence and staff as well as some invited guests. I would encourage the entire readership of this blog to google Edith and her story, exploring the road that she travelled to get to that momentous point in UK policing.
I will close with a few remarks about St George’s Police Children’s Trust (SGPCT) which is the other Police Charity we run alongside the PTC. Despite the very best efforts of the Donor Engagement Team, the sign- up rates of donors to SGPCT have continued to fall and at the end of 2019, reached their lowest ever level of 39% of the total potential donor base. Should the unthinkable happen, SGPCT (at 35p a week), really offers an unparalleled range of financial benefits payable to the children and young people of the Police donor. It is more a question of can you risk not signing up to the charity rather than can you afford to do so? I would also encourage those of you without children (and do not forget the charity covers step children, adopted children and the children from current and previous relationships and of course the death of the partner of the Police Officer donor) to still donate, taking an altruistic approach in supporting the charity for the sake of your colleagues, even if you should never have need of the charity yourself. It is heart breaking to hear of the death or ill health retirement of a Police Officer to then discover that they were not SGPCT donors and therefore not eligible for help. Nobody ever expects tragedy to strike them, but the 14 children from 8 different families that the Trustees agreed to bring on as St George’s beneficiaries (which is not an untypical number), were relieved in the midst of a tragic death or ill health retirement, that their Police Officer parent was a donor to SGPCT and they now become eligible for support from the charity. I would encourage all of you to do the same.
That is all for this first Blog of the year, I hope to see many of you at one of our Centres this year.
Patrick Cairns CEO PTC/SGPCT