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PCC launches new support service for those in mental health crisis at event to celebrate the women "who make Bedfordshire better" and raise money for the Luton hospital helipad
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway launched two high profile initiatives and led a celebration of the county’s inspirational women, at an event held at Wrest Park, Silsoe, on Tuesday (2 July).

The Commissioner launched her charity of the year - the £1.5m appeal to complete a much needed helipad at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where vital time and precious lives will be saved if air ambulances can bring patients to the site, and take them straight down to the trauma centre, rather than relying on ambulance transfers from a nearby playing field.

Commissioner Holloway said: "The Luton and Dunstable team has had such an impact on me with its plans for the proposed helipad, directly above the department and its operating theatres, neo natal and cardiac units, which would serve the county as a whole, that I’m completely convinced that it would help to save young lives. 

“They only need the last £1.5m of what is now a £7m appeal, which is why I'd like to get them over the line and for funds from any joint-working to go to the appeal.

“That’s precisely why I’m making it my charity for the remainder of my term in office, and will be collecting at all our events on its behalf from now on.”

Consultant surgeon David Kirby, Operational Medical Director of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, an emergency medicine specialist and a guest speaker at the event told the audience that he is seeing more and more victims of knife injuries, saying: “I'm sick and tired of having to dealing with young stab victims and it’s time to step up with the PCC to educate young people about the real consequences of knife carrying as being a victim is not a badge of honour. It leaves a trail of devastation for families left behind."

Among the winners at Bedfordshire Women’s Community Safety Awards was Roseann Taylor, the mother of Azaan Kaleem who lost his life as a victim of knife crime in Luton on 22 March 2018. She took home the coveted Woman of the Year Award. Mr Kirby was the consultant on duty on that day, but was unable to save the 18-year-old.

Mr Kirby said: “Had Azaan got to us sooner, we would undoubtedly have been able to save him.  A helipad will allow air ambulances to get victims to us as quickly as possible and for us to give them the very best chance of survival.”

The second initiative announced by PCC Holloway at the awards ceremony was the Mental Health Hub (MHH); an exciting new venture, jointly funded by the Commissioner and East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), which brings together mental health professionals and police colleagues in response to those experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Mental Health Hub has three core aspects:

- A mental health nurse within Bedfordshire's Force Contact Centre (the control room) to deal directly with callers who are in crisis and provide support plus tactical advice to police officers, as well as coaching and guidance for all call handlers in the management of mental health related callers.

- A mental health nurse within the Signpost Victim Support Hub, to also deal directly with callers with mental health issues and offer support and guidance to colleagues dealing with those affected by crime who are in crisis.

- Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) providing nominated officers and mental health workers for the most frequent users of emergency services, often as a result of high risk mental health related issues that may result in a service user being sectioned

“In practise, SIM means every one of the most frequent callers to police and other blue light services and users of those services will have a dedicated police officer and mental health worker, thanks to the agreement with the health service provider ELFT. Not only will this lead to a far better pathway to care for the individual service users but, with this support, SIM can drastically reduce crisis calls and other high risk events, including police deployments, ambulance call outs, A&E attendances and mental health bed admissions, with all the associated costs - both actual to the services and emotional to the person in crisis,” said the PCC.
“I’m always determined to make sure that those who use a service help to design it and this has been no different with those who’ve actually been sectioned repeatedly when in crisis, helping us to create SIM from scratch,” she said.

Superintendent Jaki Whittred, Bedfordshire Police's lead for mental health, said: “Although the SIM model has been operating within other forces, we believe that by aligning it with placement of the mental health nurses, this is an opportunity for a truly integrated response, with the key aim of early detection, prevention of mental health crisis, reduction in use of police time when dealing with MH related calls, and improving the experience for the service user.”
The Commissioner then announced the awards, created and funded by her office and delivered in partnership with the Bedfordshire Women’s Network to commemorate and create opportunities for women in the county who promote community safety and victim support and celebrate them through the hosting of an event with the network which helps advise the OPCC, Policing and public services. 

“This event ran for the first time last year and I’d arranged it to not only pay tribute to all those incredible women working in our county but to mark the centenary of votes for women. In fact, we received over 7,000 pages of nominations which was a wake-up call to me that no such regular event to recognise their work existed. The OPCC now intends to make this an annual event,” said PCC Holloway.

Eight awards were handed out, voted for by the officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police.
  • Volunteer of the Year – awarded to Delphi Ellis for giving her time to the voluntary sector to support, empower and help women cope and recover. She raises awareness of projects to support women.
  • Education Specialist of the Year – awarded to Cat Magee for implementing safeguarding measures into Lincroft Academy as it changed from a Middle to a Secondary school and introducing a computer based programme that enabled a full picture of all safeguarding and well-being issues the school population faced and allowed Senior management to effectively plan as they developed into the Secondary status.
  • Offender Rehabilitation Award – awarded to Michelle Crook for her commitment and support of ex-offenders and helping to reengage them back into society, employment and training.  She has worked with more than 500 ex-offenders in the past 12 months.
  • Community Group / Individual Award – awarded to Rumi Chowdhury – for her 25 years’ work at Luton Rights, the past ten of those as centre manager. She helps those in need and the vulnerable to access the information they need and runs an advice surgery at CYCD to help older, vulnerable adults.  She also trains and develops volunteers.
  • Blue Light Award – awarded to Caroline Goates for her dedicated work for the Fire Service in creating a network of blue light services in the county and beyond. Caroline is the “go to” person for the fire and rescue service.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – awarded to Fiona Chapman MBE for her many years of service to Bedfordshire. She was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 2001 and was awarded an MBE in 2002 for her services to local politics. She was also the Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire in 2003. She has worked with both the police and fire authorities and chaired the Police and Crime Panel for its first five years. In addition, she found time to work selflessly for charity, for the church, and as a school governor.
  • Police Officer or Police Staff Award – awarded to Detective Constable Catherine Layton for her consistent, positive vision of detectives in the “24 Hours in Police Custody” programmes and for inspiring many women to consider policing as a career. She has also provided excellent service to victims of crime during her many years of exemplary service.
  • Woman of the Year Award – awarded to Roseann Taylor - Roseann’s only son, Azaan Kaleem, was murdered in Luton in March 2018 and since that time Roseann has worked tirelessly to educate and campaign against knife crime and the consequences of carrying a knife, working with young people at risk of exploitation from gangs. She has appeared on television and has participated in meetings with senior police and politicians. Roseann is currently working through a restorative justice process with one of the men jailed for her son’s murder.
A special award was also given to the team behind the Mental Health Hub for its work in bringing the idea to life.

Contributions to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Helipad Appeal can be made at

The Women’s Network is a group devoted to improving the working and living environment of women across Bedfordshire Police and our wider partnership of professional across Bedfordshire.