Berry happy to be the new chair at COPS

Posted on April 1, 2014 | Category :Uncategorized | No Comments

Jan Berry

JAN Berry is the new chair of the trustees of Care of Police Survivors.

Jan, known well by the police family as a former chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, takes over from Mick Foster, who remains a trustee.

Here, the ardent Crystal Palace fan reveals her vision for COPS.

What’s your plan for the new role?

Care of Police Survivors was set up because the police service wasn’t dealing very well with officers being killed or dying on duty and although I think the police service’s immediate response has improved, after a while policing carries on but of course the families and those close to officers who have been killed on duty don’t move on. And so COPS really fills the gap, particularly by people using their own experience but more so it fills the gap when the police service moves back to policing and of course survivors are still requiring support which can be in a variety of different ways. What has happened is that COPS has grown from a few survivors, to many survivors, and it inevitably will continue to grow because police officers sadly will continue to die on duty. It is important that Care of Police Survivors  maintains what is so special about it, which is survivors looking after survivors and giving them that support and the understanding that only they appreciate. But the other side of it is that we have been entrusted with an increasing amount of money to make sure that we can provide that level of support to survivors.

How will you do that?

We have to continue doing much of what was done before but we have to listen to what survivors need. And maybe as a charity, or as a board of trustees, we have been doing what we’ve always done – the survivors’ weekend and the annual service at the arboretum – but I don’t think we really understand what the ongoing needs of the survivors will be and it can be varied. The Jim McNulty fund, that’s being used to provide driving lessons for children of officers killed, is a really important fund because their dads, and sometimes their mums, are not there to sit next to them in a car. So to provide that is a really practical way of supporting them.

Will you be looking to do more of that?

The driving lessons is a really good idea. But we have to start engaging with the survivors and really understanding what it is that the charity can do to support them in the months and years to come. And some of that can be just emotional support, but others might be more practical. There are a number of different police charities and we shouldn’t be stepping on the toes of the Police Dependents’ Trust or other charities who are there to provide support, but I do think Care of Police Survivors  and particularly the survivors within COPS have an experience that can be used to help others with what is an extraordinarily difficult time in their lives.

Why did you want the job?

Even my time at the Federation, I became friends with a lot of survivors. And I realised how important COPS was in their lives because it provided them with a place to go and people to speak to who understood what they were going through. And I think sometimes the police service doesn’t because they move on. Policing is still being delivered. But survivors don’t move on. So the weekends and the annual service are a really important time to remember. But I think COPS provides that level of support and practical aid that the service can never provide. I see my time with COPS as chair as building on what Mick I think has done, but also the charity is getting bigger so it is about making sure that the structure can support what we are trying to do. We are entrusted with not an insignificant amount of money and it’s important that that money is used for survivors to face the future.

What is your message to serving police officers about why they should support Care of Police Survivors?

I think the first thing is to say we should never lose sight of the fact that we do lose colleagues. And there but for the grace of God goes many of us. It is important to support those who are left behind. There is a number of people I know or knew where their families are in that position so from the big police family it is important not to forget the contribution of those that we have lost, and their families and friends are a big, important part of that. I think also, it is important to be able to do something for other people. One of the things survivors talk to me about more than anything else, is sometimes they lose contact with the police. It is not always their fault, and it is not always the police’s fault, but it doesn’t take a lot for someone just to have a cup of tea to a survivor or send a birthday card or a Christmas card or maybe a card on the anniversary of somebody dying, and it just shows to them that they haven’t been forgotten, that other people care. These are very small things sometimes but it means an awful lot to the survivors so I think for the wider police family we should never forget those that we have lost and we should never forget their families – that they made a huge contribution.

What would your message be to Care of Police Survivor families?

I am there to support you. I am there to listen and make sure that not only are the survivors today supported by the charity but also to ensure the charity is in a fit state to support the survivors who will become our members in the months and years to come.

Tell us about your career

I was a Kent Police officer from 1971 to 2008 – 37 years, where I retired at the rank of chief inspector. I was chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales for six years.

Tell readers something they don’t know about you…

They know I am a Crystal Palace supporter – so that’s not a surprise. But I am also a founding member of the Starbucks Appreciation Society. I know every Starbucks in the country. I even know where the drive thru ones are. It’s very sad. My tipple is a skinny latte. But I only have one a day now because I am being a good girl.

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