To mark national 'Time to Talk Day' 2021, PSA member Det/Supt Tim Rowlandson of Hampshire Police, shares an insightful and reflective blog on the importance of talking:
“Please… Don’t Jump!”
“Please… Don’t Jump!”
I’ll never forget saying those words.
It was a wet, and bitterly cold, night in Southampton - illuminated only by the dim glow of streetlamps and the rippling reflections of blue flashing lights. I was stood on the Itchen Bridge, looking up at a bedraggled man in his twenties, standing on the rain-drenched railings. He was stood tall, his feet wider than the ledge, swaying like a tree in a gentle breeze. He had nothing to hold onto for balance. My hands were numb, my head frozen, and my heart pounding like a racehorse in the final furlong of the Grand National.
I have never been so scared in all my life.
“Please, don’t jump…” I pleaded. I begged the man to sit down. He didn’t. So, I started at stage one in negotiator training school:
“Hi, my name’s Tim and I’m here to listen…”
And listen I did. For the next 7 hours. I listened to a string of tragic situations that had led to him being there, his life literally in the balance. I listened without judgement or advice. I just listened… creating space for him to talk, to think, to process. I listened for glimmers of hope and reflected these back to him, praying they would resonate and amplify in his mind. That they might just be enough, for now. And “just enough” was all I needed. One step at a time.
After what seemed like forever he agreed to sit down. He was shaking with cold and it could only have been a matter of time before he fell. Soon I was able to offer him a blanket, given with an arm around his shoulder, which was meant to secure as much as to reassure.
He was safe. Safe to live another day. Safe to get the help he so desperately needed. Safe to find fresh hope for the days and years to come.
We’ve just seen the end of January, which for many is the emotionally lowest point in the year. On Time to Talk Day, and with everything going on in the world, I want to use this opportunity to make two simple points:
1 – It’s OK not to be OK… There is no weakness in seeking help. No shame in recognising the stress and trauma we experience, both in serving the public and in our personal lives. There is, in fact, in my view no braver act than taking the first step to get support.
2 – Whatever you’ve been through, or are going through, there is hope. And there is help if you want it.
- If you’ve been traumatised by something you’ve experienced at work there is TRIM;
- If you’re struggling with the weight of pressures and stress at work there is help;
- There is a wealth of information, advice and guidance on the Oscar Kilo website here;
- Alongside that, line-managers should be available to support you and point you in the right direction for whatever advice or support you need.
And if all else fails, if you feel like you have no one to talk to and you need it, I’ll say the same thing to you as I did to that man on the bridge:
“Hi, my name’s Tim, and I’m here to listen…”
And if you don’t need help right now, please make the time to look out for those around you who do.
Please stay safe and look after each other.