Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has created a dedicated relaxation space at Police HQ to help officers, staff and call handlers take a few minutes out after particularly traumatic events, as part of her bid to boost wellbeing in the Force.
The PCC has refurbished the old rest area on the ground floor at Bedfordshire PoliceHeadquarters (HQ) in Kempston, which has now been renamed The Breathing Space. The refurbishment was delivered after an initial request to the PCC from the Force Control Room team and she designed and equipped it from scratch.
“Across the corporate world where I used to work, improving working conditions for staff especially in communal areas and providing them with a space for a few moments’ respite if their job is stressful, is seen as a hugely important factor in relation to morale and even in helping to improve the physical and mental health of the workforce.
"This is most definitely not a waste of money but a modest and well deserved investment in our officers and staff and I was entirely clear that this is part of my duty of care to all of them even before the publication of this month’s Front Line Review urging forces to take wellbeing more seriously”, said Commissioner Holloway.
The quiet and welcoming space allows staff to gather their thoughts during or after a long or particularly difficult shift, in comfortable surroundings. It has been furnished to create a calming ambience with appropriate furniture, pictures, plants and soft lighting.
Bedfordshire Police's Wellbeing Co-Ordinator, Andrea Breitenbach said “The Breathing Space room looks amazing and we have our PCC to thank for that. It will provide our workforce with a quiet space that can be used when some time out is needed. This may be as a result of dealing with a traumatic incident or just for someone needing a bit of time to collect their thoughts or practice some Mindfulness.
“As part of the Force's Wellbeing Agenda, further break out areas are being modernised, and I look forward to working closely with the PCC’s office to improve the wellbeing provisions for our staff.”
Commissioner Holloway said how grateful she is to local stores who have helped her to create the ‘Breathing Space’ with free goods or substantial discounts.
“I would like to single out the fantastic management team at Bedford’s Dunelm Mill and Homesense stores for their help with the chairs, lighting, pictures and other accessories and to the team at Gibbs and Dandy in Dallow Road, Luton for discounting paint and decorating materials. Without them this would not have worked out as it has."
The PCC is delivering a refurbishment programme across the most run down communal areas of the police estate and has already overseen the overhaul of the HQ reception area and Signpost Victim Support Hub - a call centre in the former control room also housing the Hate Crime team, plus a rest space and kitchen at Dunstable Police Station for enquiries office staff, this year. Decoration of Luton Police Station has started on the ground floor.
“I was a bit down-hearted when one of the Custody staff in Luton told me he thought it was being decorated to look good for the cameras of the C4 series ‘24 Hours in Police Custody’ when, in fact, this is all part of a genuine attempt to improve working conditions for officers and staff. I told him he was a cynic and that you can’t please all of the people all of the time!,” joked Commissioner Holloway.
“I would be absolutely delighted to hear from other store holders who might be able to help with furniture, lighting, pictures and kitchen equipment as I move onto the shared kitchens at Luton and as I aim to create another Breathing Space there and I will most certainly give them credit for any help.
“I have promised the officers and staff that I will take this refurbishment as far and as quickly as I possibly can as part of my promise to them in relation to looking after our people which is set out in my Police and Crime Plan as I take this investment in them very seriously indeed,” she said.
“I’m absolutely delighted to say that officers and staff have stopped me in the corridors and told me how much they appreciate it and they’ve confirmed that the Breathing Space is now in regular use."