In August 2015 I had successfully swapped a policing environment - that I loved but had taken its toll on my health – for a whole new World of corporate life, weekends off and that mythical “balance”. However, I was exasperated by the lack of support available to my former colleagues and decided that I would do something about it.
Mightify was born. A made-up word from my inner linguistic geek, in case you wondered: if we amplify sound and fortify walls, why can’t we Mightify people’s inherent might?
This article is about reflecting on those 4 years both personally and professionally, sharing some of the lessons learned and setting out the case for future developments – because however far we’ve come, we still have a long way to go.
The key points:
- As a nation, as a society and often as the organisations who employ them; the support and investment available to emergency services workers is not good enough. We need to do better.
- There is a small but committed band of individuals and initiatives making changes, so if you’re reading this and consider yourself one of them, please shout!
- Change is difficult and uncomfortable, but it is necessary and inevitable. Which doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but it does mean challenging things that aren’t right.
- The answer to making the changes we need to make, as well as making them sustainable, lies in collaboration over competition. There’s plenty of work to go around, and for me personally it’s about working with people who are in this for the right reasons.
To measure our progress, it’s helpful to go back to the overall vision of what we do. Wellbeing, career development and personal development are all intrinsically linked and they all need to be proactively supported. People in the emergency services are undervalued, underinvested in and taken for granted. The UK Armed Forces would just about fit into Wembley stadium – and are rightly offered transition help, funding and support. The UK emergency services counts upwards of 300,000 people in its number – and are expected to just sort themselves out. That’s unacceptable.
So, where have we got to?
On a personal level, it’s been 4 years of self-doubt, excitement, fear, challenge, anxiety, pride and lots more, all changing places on an hourly basis. There is no stability and there are no guarantees – but with that comes the ability to make decisions, take risks and pursue something bigger. Anyway, this isn’t really about me, but just a word for anyone thinking of going it alone – plan, prepare, plan again… then go for it and don’t look back.
For our clients, we have often achieved what I truly believe are life-changing results. People who now see their children more, have their first family holiday in years, work in a role that fulfils them, feel valued, earn more money – the list goes on. We’ve shown that it can be done.
I believe we’ve played a part, however small, in making emergency services resettlement and career support a mainstream conversation. That conversation has often been one-way when I’ve been told by decision-makers that they aren’t interested, but I won’t give up on that. 4 years ago, there wouldn’t have been national conferences on police wellbeing, for example.
On the careers side, we’ve seen a greater awareness among private sector employees of the skills emergency services people can bring to their business, whatever their business. We’ve seen police forces (and Federations) taking a more active interest in equipping their people for every stage of their career, including leaving the service at some point.
What’s still to come?
We’ll soon be listing all the ways we can help people across the country this Autumn and beyond. Events, courses, coaching and networking – in person and online – so that everyone has access to proper professional support across their wellbeing, career and personal ambitions. We’re moving steadily towards the end-to-end support system that has been so sorely lacking.
We still need to change a lot of attitudes at senior levels throughout the emergency services and the government. The pillars of recruitment, retention and resettlement are absolutely crucial to the future success of any organisation and they require proactive investment and willingness to adopt new ideas. Equally we can go a lot further in convincing external partners of the opportunity to engage a whole new stream of talented, dedicated people.
As I mentioned, there is a strong and growing number of people doing great work in all these interconnected fields – I’ve mentioned a few in the associated LinkedIn post to highlight their efforts but this isn’t an exhaustive list and I’m sure I’ll have missed people through fault purely of mine! The overall conclusion for me is that on the whole we’ve come a long way – but there is a lot to do and we have to get it right.