Last Friday, March 8th, I had the enormous privilege of speaking at the West Yorkshire Police Wellbeing Conference. It was held on International Women’s day and was hosted by the BAWP (British Association for Women in Policing) but there were also plenty of male attendees too.
Not only did I give a talk on how powerful creating is for wellbeing and the benefits of following ‘recipes’ to empower us to create without fear but I also held my own Sketchbook Club workshop right there in the conference room!
With nearly 300 attendees, the Sketchbook Club table was full all day and there were some stunning illustrations being created! It was so lovey seeing how proud everybody was of the work they created. First to sit down, just as doors opened was ‘John’. It took a lot of confidence to dive right in and try something not touched since childhood. John couldn’t believe his work – He was so proud! It bought a tear to my eye when he dedicated his drawing to his children, “They won’t believe I made it!” he said. It’s beautiful John!
John’s painting wasn’t the only thing to bring a tear to my eye during the day. There were lots of incredible speakers, many of whom had been effected by their own battles with mental health and were brave and generous enough to share their experiences for the benefit of others. I have always thought I knew how hard a job being a Police Officer is but the conference really opened my eyes as to just how unthinkable many of the tasks are that the police endure. They are the ones who have to knock on people’s doors and tell them the worst news of their lives. They are the ones who are first at the scene of all accidents and they are at the frontline of domestic and child abuse. It is no wonder that the Police Force are trying to do everything they can to support them emotionally. I was devastated and drained just listening to their stories! I can’t imagine a life where these experiences are not just for real, but are a regular occurrence. I was left completely in awe and with deepest of deep respect.
Thank you for having me West Yorkshire Police! It was a humbling and unforgettable experience. xxx