Episode 2 of Eavesdrop is an interview with Police Constable, Chris Edge.
Chris has been working with Greater Manchester Police for over 16 years and spoke to Lily-Jo about his role in a plainclothes response team. In the interview they discussed:
- The view of the pandemic from the perspective of the police force.
- How he is coping with his own mental health and well-being.
- How he is personally witnessing people’s strength and resilience.
Here’s a brief recap of their conversation.
Lily-Jo’s Interview With Dr John Patterson
Q: Can you tell us how COVID-19 has changed the way you work?
A: “I’m still living a normal life in my job role, looking for criminals or people who don’t want to be found, answering emails, etc. What has changed is that we don’t get to leave the police station as much – we are doing much more work over the phone or on email, and pursuing inquiries that way. We are also adjusting the way we speak to the public, ie. speaking on doorsteps rather than in people’s residences. This has changed the way people respond, so it might be making our job a little harder but we are adjusting to the guidelines and working within them.
“What I hear from response officers on the street is that there seem to be fewer home burglaries but we are seeing an increase in domestic crimes in the home, such as domestic violence. People are sitting home and perhaps drinking more and people are confined and these things lead to domestic violence in certain situations.”
Q: Have you been experiencing lots of positivity or negativity from the public?
A: “Positivity is always a surprise! My experience in the police is that we are always seeing the worst in society, so when people respond positively that’s lovely! A lady who owns a Mama Flow Jamaican takeaway Stockport – since lockdown started she’s been providing free food to everyone in the community on a Monday. She’s really smiley and bubbly and has been helping the NHS and just seeing her doing that reminds me that there are still good people in the world. These people exist, but sadly in my job, we don’t get to meet them that often!
“I’m surprised how well people are taking to the lockdown. We see a lot of reporting on people’s misbehaviour but that’s not fair to the vast majority of people who are doing what’s asked. In the main, in the North West, we are being good citizens. People are taking care of themselves and others.”
Q: You have to put yourself in a position of great risk with your job. How do you cope with the impact of that?
A: “I know I’m in a situation of risk and that can be terrifying, but I don’t feel afraid of the virus. I’ve not experienced any symptoms. I find that if you stop to think about things too long or too hard then you’ll overthink things, then you’ll stop being able to do the things you need to do. So I’ve been trying not to overthink. We have some PPE, but it’s a judgement call of how we use it based on a risk assessment. We do what we can to protect ourselves, but we need to get on with our jobs and “get our hands dirty,” sometimes in this job we don’t have the time to get PPE on and we just have to do what we have to do.”
Q: How have you been personally maintaining your mental health?
A: “One of the biggest mental health trials of my job is trauma. I manage the trauma on a daily basis in a few ways. One of them is humour – it can get pretty dark! Talking out it out with your colleagues is really important – you don’t always realise that you’re dealing with trauma in a debrief but you are and you need to talk it out. There really is no right or wrong for how you process, and sometimes if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry! It doesn’t mean we’re insensitive it just means we are trying to process and not let it have a terrible impact on our lives.”
“To stay positive, I need to be aware of what I am putting into my mind, making sure I’m not absorbing too much negativity from the news or TV, so I can maintain positivity. I think it’s really important to get out in the garden or outside and take joy from the situation and from the small things, rather than concentrating on the big, scary things. To this end, it’s important to be careful about how much news you are absorbing! Be careful about what you’re sharing online too. It’s all well and good having an opinion but unless it’s factually based, be careful what you’re sharing because it can have a big impact on others mental health.”
Chris gives us a great perspective on the strength it takes to be a key worker in such a position of risk. We are so grateful for the sacrifices he and his colleagues are making, keeping us safe and responding to others in need.
Chris is also a natural bodybuilder and has his own podcast! You can check it out here.
If you think you might be struggling with a domestic violence situation and need help please reach to helplines here.
Want the whole story? Catch the full podcast episode on The Lily-Jo Project website here, or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
If you are in search of more mental health resources and advice, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/#help.