Posted: Monday 15th May 2017
Are you surviving or thriving? An important thought for all of us and the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May). According to a report commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation in March 2017, nearly two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to seven in every 10 women; young adults aged 18-34 and people living alone. Good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem. I believe we could all do more to encourage people to speak out about mental health and raise awareness of this illness that affects so many.
I began this week attending the swearing-in ceremony of our new West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Tim Bowles. As your elected Police and Crime Commissioner, I can empathise with running for a position of such magnitude and responsibility. I look forward to working with him, as I do with all our local authorities, to ensure we are achieving the very best for the local people of Avon and Somerset. I know that Tim has big plans with regards to homes, transport, businesses and jobs within the patch amongst other areas of focus and I wish him well in his new role.
Welcoming in the next generation of policing also featured in several events I have attended this week, including meeting the latest candidates joining the national Police Now Graduate Leadership Programme. The scheme looks recruits graduates into policing looking to make them leaders in neighbourhood policing. It’s vital our policing service has the right people and right culture and Police Now is our response to that challenge; helping to transform communities, reduce crime and increase local people’s confidence in policing.
The Citizen’s Academy is another initiative designed to give local people a better insight into policing. Following a successful pilot in Bristol involving 29 participants, the Constabulary have once again opened its doors for the next 10-week insight academy. Throughout the programme, participants will take part in ride-alongs with local neighbourhood policing teams, find out more about the different police roles such as forensic investigations and firearms and learn about the different challenges faced by officers and staff on a daily basis. The Academy will also explore the invaluable voluntary roles that are available.
We can always learn a lot from other people and develop ourselves even further and this week I took up the challenge to improve my driving. Road safety is one of the topics that local people most contact me about, particularly speeding drivers. I have given a number of talks to various local groups of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and this week I could not escape a driving assessment. The feedback was really valuable and just reminds you of some of the things that you forget after years of driving. IAM wants to help people become a better driver or rider, particularly young people. They are currently looking for a new young Driver Ambassador for the next year to tour schools, colleges and apprentice centres. Find out more at www.iamroadsmart.com