Meet the Cleveland Police recruits helping to support staff's mental health
Cleveland Police have welcomed two new four-legged recruits to help support officers and staff with their mental health.
Bella a year-old Labrador and Husky cross, and Sol, a nine-year-old male standard poodle, are the force’s first “Oscar Kilo OK 9” wellbeing and trauma support dogs.
The dogs will work with the force’s wellbeing and Blue Light team and their handlers Amanda Buck and Hilary Brown – both trained in mental health first aid and peer support – will be available, on a voluntary basis, to any officers and staff who may need help.
Amanda, who is Bella’s handler said: “Bella joined our family at the age of six months and went to work with me daily.
“I noticed she would gravitate towards people who were anxious or stressed and her behaviour changed towards each individual.”
Police volunteer and Sol’s handler, Hilary, said: “When I was approached to see if we would be interested in this. I said yes straight away as the pressure on officers and staff is immense and I hope that Sol can help.
“Sol has such a lovely nature. He is here to bring joy to people's lives, so now he may be able to help even more people.”
Insp Phil Spencer, the force’s wellbeing and Blue Light co-ordinator said: “It’s proven that the presence of a wellbeing dog has a calming influence and through interaction with Bella and Sol, we are hoping to encourage officers and staff to engage and speak about mental health and wellbeing.
“We are delighted to be welcoming them to the team.”