For many of us this has been one of the most challenging years we have ever faced, as the bells rang out at 12am on January 1st 2020 who would have thought it would have turned out like it has.
Here at NARPO this was not what we expected of our 101st year. We remain eminently proud though of how the NEC, Branches and our colleagues at HQ have stepped up to keep the show on the road in the best way possible.
Many Branches have done, and are doing, some fantastic work to support their older and more vulnerable members during the Coronavirus pandemic. We set up a Branch Knowledge and Best Practice Hub page on our website to collate Branch initiatives, the purpose was so that Branches could let us know what they were doing to support their members and provide ideas which other Branches could use and adopt. The Hub can be found at https://narpo.org/covid-19-knowledge-hub-branch-best-practice/
In the summer, an NEC led initiative saw the development of the NARPO Bereavement Booklet, which has been circulated to Branches and well received in supporting our Members in their time of need.
During 2020 we had to quickly adapt to and embrace new technology and new ways of working. HQ, NEC and Branches all have access to MS Teams which enabled us to keep in touch and operate virtually. One thing that became apparent during this crisis was that it is vital that businesses and organisations like ours have the ability to function without attending the office. At NARPO HQ, all our staff were already provided with the necessary technical equipment to work remotely and we continued to deliver ‘business as usual’ to our Members and Branches as well as responding to any other external enquiries
Also, the National Executive Committee has continued to hold their meetings remotely. Unfortunately, our National Conference had to be cancelled, but we are hopeful that our 2021 Conference will be able to take place next September in Llandudno.
Our Widows Pension for Life Campaign, in partnership with the Police Federation, made positive progress this year as we commenced legal proceedings against The Secretary of State. The proceedings are representative of a significant group of widows and widowers, all of whom will lose their financial lifeline if they remarry or cohabit. If successful, the proceedings will also have significant implications for hundreds of widows and widowers who have already lost their pension upon remarriage or cohabitation, after their former partner or spouse’s death. We will continue to fight to right this injustice and the hearing is expected to take place sometime in the summer next year.
We continued our success in increasing Member numbers throughout 2020 and our membership base now stands at over 93,000.
The Mental Health and wellbeing of retired officers remains an important part of our work and along. With our Parliamentary Advisors we continued to influence stakeholders to raise the profile of the mental health and wellbeing of retired officers with Government and Opposition parties. Dehenna Davison MP tabled several questions in Parliament around mental health and the wellbeing of retired officers. The Government response can be seen on our website at: https://narpo.org/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support-for-retired-police-officers-written-questions-answered/
After submitting our response to the Police Covenant consultation process, in which we outlined that the Covenant should include support for retired officers, we were pleased to note that the Home Secretary announced the decision to enshrine the Police Covenant in law to enhance support and protection for the entire police family, including retired Police Officers. The Covenant applies to serving and former police personnel. It creates a statutory duty for forces to support police officers and places a requirement on the Home Secretary to report annually to Parliament. It will focus on protection, health and wellbeing, and support for families. Further information can be found on our website at: https://narpo.org/police-covenant/ We look forward to seeing how this will progress in 2021.
In the autumn we launched an important partnership with national charity Marie Curie. NARPO members are now able to access dedicated services including the Marie Curie Support Line and a befriending service. Whatever the question, members can call the Marie Curie Support Line for practical information and support on all aspects of life with terminal illness, dying and bereavement.