At one point or another, each and every one of us will meet you or one of your colleagues, speak to you, be comforted by you and benefit from the care and protection you provide.The Prince of Wales
Thank you Simon. It’s great to be here with everyone today – socially distanced as you are!
Today is 999 day, a day when we come together to celebrate and thank the two million people, just like you in this room, who put their own lives on the line, time and time again to keep the rest of us safe and healthy.
This has already been an extraordinary year.
The months ahead will no doubt be uncertain and at some points scary.
But thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of those of you working across the emergency services and in the NHS, I count myself and others in this country very fortunate.
Your dedication is not only apparent when we are faced with a global pandemic.
Each and every day, people from teams across the blue light community are called to the scenes of dreadful incidents.
Just last week in Birmingham, ambulance and police workers turned up to a horrendous incident and provided critical care and support to the most vulnerable.
But as you care for us in our time of need, so too must we ensure that we are there for you when you need it the most.
We must ensure that you have the right support in place each and every day.
And I know first hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the frontline can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.
Firstly, it’s important that we recognise that.
And secondly, it’s important that we do all we can to support you through it.
Yesterday, I convened a meeting of senior leaders including the heads of emergency services and their respective charities from across the U.K. to discuss this very issue.
There has never been a cross-sector mental health forum of this kind, to share learnings and best practice on how best to support staff.
I was encouraged and heartened about their desire for tangible and lasting change – with new and better collaboration and training, which could certainly draw inspiration from the peer support programme here in Northern Ireland.
In February of last year, Catherine and I met with a group of your PSNI colleagues at Hillsborough Castle to hear about their experiences and the unique set of policing and safety challenges that they face.
We were struck then, as I am now, by your steadfast commitment to helping others. You are a testament to the blue light community across our country, and I can’tthank you enough for what you do.
At one point or another, each and every one of us will meet you or one of your colleagues, speak to you, be comforted by you and benefit from the care and protection you provide.
Given what we ask of you, we must do all we can to look out for you; and to help you to look out for each other.