No fluff here

So yesterday The Sun saw fit to publish an article attacking public sector communicators. It was the usual from a Freedom of Information request that will have been sent to all police forces, local authorities and NHS bodies. We get them a lot from a whole range of different groups usually who want to decry any communication work.

To start with my problem is that the figures don’t stack up. There is no common structure for communication teams and the figures are not comparing like with like. Some will have included all communication roles others just the PR element of what they do. It makes any comparison null and void.

My biggest issue is the lack of understanding of what goes on with public sector communicators. I would say almost 100 per cent of what I do is to support operational policing. If it isn’t then why am I doing it. I can’t justify anything classes as fluff.

Yes we do try different things. Yes some of it may be more lighthearted but always at the centre is an operational imperative.

The article doesn’t talk about the work done to help victims of crime or to help find offenders. It doesn’t mention the work to improve public contact or make the police more accessible. It fails to recognise the day-to-say reality of life in public sector communication teams. In the past six years we have reduced by 35 per cent and the workload like that of frontline colleagues has continued to increase.

I spent a large amount of last year dealing with the communication issues related to a major terror attack on my city. Just like those working in the local authority, Mayors office and NHS. Unfortunately none of that gets quantified or discussed in the FOI responses.

I am very proud of the work that I do and that I see colleagues do across the public sector. We work away behind the scenes and in difficult circumstances to support the frontline, help victims and keep things functioning.

One final thought is that I would love to see the industry bodies step up and say something to support public sector communicators.

And finally if any reporter from The Sun wants to come and see the reality of what we do then please get in touch and it can be arranged.

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Just one thing

Twelve months ago I wrote about the achievements I wanted to complete in 2017. For many years I have avoided the resolutions route because inevitably people don’t keep to them and end up frustrated and disappointed just a few days into the new year.

In looking back today I can see that I have moved towards achieving what I had outlined which is good but it doesn’t feel right to start talking about achievements in 2018.

My hopes for 2018 are so much simpler than they have been at any new year. I just want to have a feeling of contentment and to help others have that same feeling. It isn’t about being happy because we know we can’t be happy all of the time. It is about feeling gratitude and satisfaction with where you are right now. Not thinking about the past or the future but feeling comfortable for now and today.

Some may call it mindfulness or inner peace. I don’t care how you want to label it as my only focus is on getting to that point and remembering it each and every day in 2018.

Along the way there will be good things that happen and I can enjoy them. There will be difficult and challenging things that happen and I can face them and grow stronger. Behind it all will be my contented feeling with who I am and what I have in my life.

You can keep your resolutions and your lists of demands from the coming 12 months I will just focus on this one thing – contentment.

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Tears, trauma and support – what 2017 brought

It feels like the time is right for me to review what 2017 has brought me and how it leaves me for the coming year. This has been a rollercoaster year and is split in two halves.

My year started recovering from illness that had wiped me out over Christmas and had prevented me travelling for a work appointment in Berlin. It was a disappointing start to 2017 but one that made me determined to get the most from the year and to look after myself a bit more.

The start to the year was busy but not massively eventful. Work was busy and as we were short staffed it added to the challenge. I managed to have a few days holiday during February and March and to enjoy time with my lovely animals and spend time on some spiritual pursuits. I also chalked up 30 years with my long suffering partner.

In the first few days of May I had an amazing night out watching Iron Maiden at the Manchester Arena. It was a great stage show and I was transported back to my teenage years. I could never have imagined the horror that happened just two weeks to the day.

When the terrifying events happened on 22 May at Manchester Arena they changed many lives. Like many I will never forget those people who lost their lives or were injured in our city. For so many people their loved ones didn’t come home from that night out. Dealing with the communication that night was the most challenging experience of my whole working life. It is something I will never forget as well as the amazing response from the people of Greater Manchester.

It took me a long time before I realised that there was going to be no return to normal. What we have been living and working with is the new normal. I learnt a lot about myself in the days, weeks and months that followed that night.

I am not as resilient as I have thought I was and like many of my team I felt broken for quite some time. I have got stamina and determination and above all we as a team had heart and that emotion and feeling came through in all the communication. For some time after the attack and even today I can feel as though I should have done more to help.

The team were amazing throughout the experience and just focused on the work that had to be done. It is why I have been very proud to accept awards for the communication response. They are a recognition of the commitment, dedication and professionalism of the team. Every one of them went above and beyond and often at a personal cost.

I have been overwhelmed by the personal support I have had throughout the year. I still can’t believe that I am now a fellow of both the CIPR and PRCA as well as being about to step into the role of vice chair of the PRCA Council and to start the year as a Chartered assessor.

It is also the year when I step down from my role as Chair of the Association of Police Communicators after five years. The role has taught me so much and I hope that the work has more recognition.

So as we are in the last few days of 2017 what have I learnt? Well, I am stronger than I think but I don’t always have to be. It is ok to be vulnerable. I am lucky to work with amazing people who do amazing things. We all need time and space to grow and develop. My support network is vital and has helped me through . I have a lot to be grateful for.

Finally I have made it through with tears and some laughter but it has only been possible because of the support I have every day. Thank you to everyone who is part of that support. Let’s hope for a happy new year.

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The last door

As you are preparing the Christmas festivities and opening the last door of the advent calendar I thought it was time to reflect on what I have learnt during Advent.

Firstly, I believe I know what the true spirit of Christmas is and that is about caring for and thinking about others. It is about sharing and tolerance. Say thank you to those you take for granted and never forget those who give you support.

Secondly, look after yourself and make sure you take some time just for you. Christmas is such a busy time of the year that it is easy to keep rushing around without time to think. Meditation is important all year round and that includes over the festive season.

Thirdly, stop hunting for or expecting the perfect Christmas it doesn’t exist. The most important thing to do is to enjoy it your way whatever that is. Tomorrow I will be with my horse and my animals will send messages to those I love and enjoy some time with my parents. It won’t be the perfect day but it will be a good day for me.

Fourthly, spare a thought for those who are working this Christmas or who are spending the day on their own. I will be lighting a candle to remember all those who are no longer with me. They will be close when I spend time to remember them.

Finally, you don’t need things to have a good Christmas you just need love around you from family or friends. You need a sense of peace and to focus on all the things you are grateful for. A sense of contentment is not a bad place to be this Christmas.

I will be having a bit of time to recharge my batteries before considering the end of year blogs. Many thanks to everyone who reads, shares and comments on my blog.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a lovely day.

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The hidden Christmas

Everyone is rushing around. Just two days to go before the big day. Last minute presents are being bought and the dash to get sprouts is underway. For many Christmas will be a lovely time getting together with family and friends. For others that isn’t the case.

Many people will be facing Christmas on their own and others will be facing private battles. It isn’t a time of joy and happiness for many who will face Christmas without loved ones.

I don’t highlight this to bring the mood down but to make you take a moment to feel grateful for what you have. If possible perhaps you can spare a thought for others and if you see someone say hello. On Christmas Day you may be the only person that they see some make sure you leave some sparkle.

For those facing their challenges don’t think you have to conform to the TV advertising view of Christmas- you don’t. You can do things your way and find what is comfortable and makes you happy. Small steps to some are massive leaps forward for others.

Finally, my love is sent to anyone who is facing the first Christmas without a loved one. If you can take time to remember all the wonderful times you had and light a candle to keep them close to you. If you get upset that is fine. There is nothing wrong with shedding a tear or two but try to find the memories that make you smile and bring them to mind.

Christmas is a lovely time if you can celebrate it your own way and if you spare a thought, a kind word or some time with others.

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Clocking on

It was very quiet on the roads today as I think a lot of people were starting their Christmas holidays. For those who were busy working and in the office it was a little frustrating.

On the one hand it was great to have the empty roads but it was easy to get the green eyed monster about those already putting their feet up. For many the Christmas break seems to get longer and longer.

I am now lucky enough not to be in the office until Wednesday which is lovely. But the team will be working and on call for the next four days. It made me stop and think about all those who will be working right through the festive season.

This has been my 18th year in policing and every year officers and staff keep working throughout Christmas and the New Year. I have been there myself many times including being in the office on Millennium night. It is often the emergency services and NHS that we think of working through but there are many more.

There will be those caring for animals who need to maintain the routine, many journalists will be on duty, and security staff will be in position.

So as you put your feet up spare a thought for those who will continue with their daily routine today, tomorrow and the days ahead.

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A winter’s tale

Today is the winter solstice and for those who don’t know it marks the shortest day of the year. This is the day with the least light and after this the days start to lengthen.

For me it is always the time when I can start to think of the coming year and the opportunities ahead. I am not one for the whole new year thing as I find I spend more time focusing on the past year and difficulties rather than being positive about the future.

There is a lot to feel positive about with more light coming into our lives. After this week I have blogged about the light on Tuesday at Chanukah celebrations. Shining more light into our lives is hugely positive and helps with our wellbeing.

So what are the positives that I am looking towards as the days grow longer? I have some amazing opportunities to take advantage of including being Vice-Chair of the PRCA Council, being a Chartered assessor for the CIPR, and writing as part of the CIPR anniversary book. There are many other great things that are being finalised that I can’t yet talk about.

I have beautiful animals around me and I will get the time to spend with them as well as share reiki with other animals in need. In the days to come I hope I can continue to get close to little rescue rabbit Digger.

There are inevitably going to be some difficult times but it is how we meet them that is important. My aim is to see the good from all situations whether it is learning or seeing the bigger picture. Out of this darkness comes light.

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