Blog: Gary Thwaite

Handling The Pressure - Blog from Federation Chief Executive Gary Thwaite

The pandemic has been going on for a long time now, and it's taking a toll on our officers. We're starting to see more stress, more friction and frustration; but it's important to look after yourselves and your colleagues.

We're very good at our job, protecting the nuclear industry including the public - our officers are true professionals, that's never been in doubt.

But the rules and regulations around COVID are constantly changing and that affects officers' home lives. People with children trying to sort childcare, schools closing, partners losing jobs; it has a knock-on effect on mental health, and we're starting to see the adverse effects.

It's tiring having to constantly adapt. Police officers are a very resilient bunch by nature, but that resilience is naturally being stretched.

We're starting to see some cracks appearing.

We need to look at officers' coping mechanisms, because the longer the pandemic goes on, the more we are going to see some serious problems develop down the line.

Officers usually take comfort in each other's company and enjoy the social side of their role, but now more people are working from home and there are strict social distancing measures in place. Frontline officers are working with the same colleagues day in, day out, because they don't want to cross-contaminate others with COVID. So they're not interacting with the full range of people that they'd normally see.

I'm hearing some concerns from officers working from home that they are constantly feeling the need to be online and working, even out of hours. Take a break, and don't be afraid to click 'you're away from office' button.

I've also noticed that some officers are reluctant to use their annual leave. Their holidays are being cancelled (mine included!), so they see taking leave as a waste, but it's important to take that time away from work. Take the day off where you can, even if you're doing nothing at home it's an opportunity for you not to think about work and, more importantly, to relax.

If you're struggling, the Federation is here for you - just phone us, or speak to your line manager, whoever you feel comfortable talking to.

We have Mental Health First Aiders within the CNC, and our Occupational Health Team is outstanding. There's counselling through services such as the Employee Assistance Programme, and advice is readily available on relaxation and anti-stress techniques from a number of forums including Oscar Kilo.

And please keep an eye on colleagues who are out of sight - drop them a text if you can to check they're ok. Look after each other.

Gary Thwaite
Chief Executive, Civil Nuclear Police Federation