Extreme challenge for Blue Light Programme

Cleveland Police colleagues will be facing danger this weekend – not to protect the public as normal – but instead to raise funds for workmates facing mental health difficulties.

Police Staff Investigator (PSI) Paul Knapp will be joined by Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Jane Gibson, Inspector Phil Spencer and seven other colleagues to abseil Middlesbrough’s Tees Transporter Bridge on Sunday December 16.

They’re all raising sponsorship money for charity Redcar and Cleveland MIND. The charity provides the Force with training as part of the ‘Blue Light Programme’.

The programme recognises emergency services workers are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and helps police forces develop peer support schemes.

Inspector Phil Spencer’s work developing the Blue Light Programme in Cleveland saw him nominated for two national awards including the Diversity Champion Award.

Each of the fundraisers will be taking the plunge to abseil 165ft down the iconic structure.

PSI Paul has opted to make the challenge even more extreme by descending in a horizontal position – which will see him dangling headfirst over the Tees for the challenge’s duration.

Paul said: “It will be great fun! I’ve always enjoyed thrill-seeking activities which get the adrenaline flowing and have done bungee jumps and free fall parachute drops in the past but due to having hip replacements I can’t do that anymore so I jumped at the chance to do this.

“To be able to do it for a great cause which is close to me is a bonus.”

Police Community Support Officer Jane Gibson said: “I love my job and making sure that people in the community are protected and safe but it can be very emotionally draining. 

“MIND’s Blue Light Programme ensures our mental health is looked after as sometimes we forget to look after ourselves in the policing community. 

“I'm raising money to make sure that specialist mental health care continues to be available to whoever may need it regardless of whether they are in the police or not. 

“This is the first time I've felt strongly enough about something to raise money for it and I intend to do it with style.”