A police inspector with over 25 years’ experience at Warwickshire Police has been recognised with a shopping voucher prize as part of a regional awards scheme. Inspector Paul Barnsley was singled out by the Skills and Education Group as the best nominee in his category despite being forced to abandon its plans for a high-profile awards event because of the pandemic.

Inspector Paul Barnsley completed eight distance learning qualifications with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) after online mental health training set him on the right track following a period of absence from work.

Paul was so impressed with what he learnt that he has encouraged more than 30 of his colleagues to sign up for the training. He went on to study challenging behaviour, children, and young people’s mental health, learning disabilities, and understanding autism, and has brought what he learnt back to the workplace.

As a result of his studies, Paul was selected to be part of a pilot scheme led by Warwickshire Police to diagnose dyslexia amongst colleagues. He became accredited by the British Dyslexia Association as a dyslexia assessor and screens new recruits to the force, helping to signpost those that need support.

Paul has also been instrumental in setting up a Disability Network for Warwickshire Police which enables colleagues to share information, knowledge, and best practice amongst colleagues. The staff portal is available to all colleagues and helps to encourage them discuss issues and share possible solutions.

Paul’s achievements impressed the judges at the Skills and Education Group who described his story as ‘an inspiring read’, credited Paul with the ‘determination and enthusiasm to get colleagues talking’ and were impressed with the ‘outstanding results’ he had achieved. The organisation explained that while the coronavirus pandemic had thrown its awards scheme into disarray, it was keen to acknowledge one standout entry in each category. The Skills and Education Group is sending Paul a shopping voucher worth £100 which he plans to spend in B&Q.

Paul spent a lot of time researching mental health online to help him better understand his own experience and initially signed up for a college qualification in mental health awareness. As he worked through the course and made progress with his own recovery, Paul realised that what he had learnt was going to be highly useful in the workplace.

As a result of Paul’s work, Warwickshire Police has introduced a Personal Supportive Passport initiative which will enable colleagues to flag support needs as they move around the organisation supporting its goals to become a ‘Disability Confident’ organisation.

Paul is one of the students on the distance learning programme, delivered online by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, to have completed the highest number of courses. He found his studies so useful that he has been promoting the courses, which are free to students and easy to access online, across his contacts including to neighbouring Leicestershire Police and within the NHS.

Paul said, “The college courses opened my eyes and I have been finding what I have learnt highly beneficial in helping the way I interact with police service users. I believe that it is always important to take a person-centred approach to policing. Once you know what to look out for, and understand something about different communication styles, it is possible to adapt your behaviour to improve interactions and put yourself in a better position to help. I am honoured to have been selected for this very welcome reward.”

Marion Plant, OBE FGCI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “This is a lovely boost for Paul who has done so well and derived a great deal of personal benefit from our distance learning courses. It is fantastic that the Skills and Education Group have recognised his efforts despite having to abandon their original plans. It is always great to hear that our courses have made an impact on our students and the organisations in which they work. We have seen an exponential rise in interest in enrolments to our online and distance learning courses over the last year as people found them so accessible and, for many, they represented a real lifeline.”

NWSLC distance learning courses are free to most* adults and can be accessed flexibly online without having to come into college. They are short courses that lead to Level 2 and 3 qualifications and can be completed offline on paper if preferred. Organisations that are interested in offering the programme to their teams should get in touch by emailing distance.learning@nwslc.ac.uk or calling 0330 058 3000.

 

*Terms and conditions apply.