Scottish Government commit funding to Lifelines Scotland

In 2019, the Scottish Government committed £138,000 of funding for the Lifelines Scotland initiative to cover Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The cash boost will provide online information and resources for emergency first responders, their friends and family as well as training courses on wellbeing and resources to help organisations embed mental health care in the workplace.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Our emergency services work hard to keep people across Scotland safe every day and like all our NHS staff, their welfare is crucially important. They often face challenging and dangerous situations, which can have an impact on mental wellbeing.

“Extending the Lifelines Scotland programme will support the resilience and welfare of front line responder staff in blue light services across the country, to ensure they feel supported, informed and valued.”  

Speaking on behalf of the emergency services, Linda Douglas, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “Tens of thousands of people work for Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service, providing vital services to our communities, saving lives and making a real difference every day.

“However, their jobs can be physically, emotionally and psychologically demanding. Each of the emergency services take the mental health and wellbeing of their staff extremely seriously, and offer staff access to a range of support services and information.

“We all welcome the extension of the Lifelines Scotland initiative to frontline staff as this funding will enable us to boost the support available to emergency responders.”

The money will be used to offer tailored online resources for blue light staff and volunteers, including a new website and online learning module. There will also be information and resources for family members, as well as for retired responders on where to access help if they need it.

Lifeline leaders will be appointed within each service to promote resilience and there will also be training materials for those providing mental health support to emergency service workers and an evaluation of the intervention to assess its impact.

Lifelines Scotland was initially established in 2016 by NHS Lothian’s specialist trauma service, the Rivers Centre, to promote the resilience and wellbeing of volunteer emergency responders.

Gill Moreton from the Rivers Centre for Traumatic Stress, and clinical lead for Lifelines Scotland, said: “The Rivers Centre team has worked with blue light colleagues for almost 20 years and are passionate about supporting the wellbeing of emergency responders.

“We are delighted to be extending Lifelines Scotland and are looking forward to working together to create wellbeing resources and training materials for all of Scotland’s emergency responders.”