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Celebrating Hampshire’s road safety heroes this Road Safety Week

By Ruth Johnson, a serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell 

Road Safety week

Road Safety Week, organised by the charity Brake, runs from 15-21 November 2021.The theme this year is ‘Road Safety Heroes’, celebrating the work of everyone who helps us make safe and healthy journeys, and supports people after a road crash. 

I caught up with some of the road safety heroes in Hampshire to find out a little more about them and the work they do. 

Dave Hazlett, road safety officer, Hampshire Police 

Tell us a little about yourself and the job you do.

I’ve been a police officer for 24 years, having joined Hampshire Constabulary aged 20. I’ve always worked in uniformed roles, but most of my career has been in roads policing. I’ve attended and investigated many collisions involving fatal and serious injuries, and am also trained as a family liaison officer (FLO). This presents unique challenges in dealing with the aftermath of traumatic incidents. I currently work as a road safety officer as part of the Joint Operations Unit, working in collaboration with Thames Valley Police. 

The role involves: 

• Working with external partners in promoting road safety themes 

• Providing road safety education 

• Conducting a variety of engagements and operations aimed at reducing road casualties. 

What strengths do you think you need to work in your job? 

The role of a road safety officer can really test your abilities of resilience. You must be able to operate in dynamic and high-pressured environments. You also need to be instinctive about making the right decisions at the right time, especially where risk assessment is concerned. 

Key attributes of the role include having the ability to communicate with people in a way they understand, and showing empathy and emotional awareness towards victims. This is vital in maintaining trust and confidence in the investigation process, but displaying the ‘human touch’ towards victims and their families cannot be underestimated. 

What are the key messages for road safety at the moment for the police locally?

The national focus is around what we call the ‘Fatal Four’, which are speeding, seat belts, mobile phones and drink/drug driving. These are the main factors that lead to people either being killed or seriously injured on the roads. 

The issue of e-scooters are very topical that the moment. Confusion still exists around the approved government trial scooters and privately owned scooters, which remain illegal other than when used on private land and with the landowners permission. Ask most communities and neighbourhood policing teams about a local concern and speeding will often feature in complaints. 

Not only does speeding present a road safety issue, but the anti-social element can diminish people’s quality of life. Taking personal responsibility for your own actions and looking out for one another to reduce collisions and minimise harm will remain our key road safety message.

Cailey Chapman, senior support worker, Headway 

Tell us a little about yourself and the job you do. 

I’ve been working for Headway Portsmouth & SE Hants for over eight years now. I absolutely love the role as no day or individual is the same. 

I believe I can offer empathy and a listening ear to all the referrals I see. Over my time with Headway Portsmouth, I’ve built up a good amount of knowledge which enables me to offer guidance and support to the referrals. 

What does your charity do? 

We’re a small charity based in South East Hampshire supporting adults who have acquired brain injury, and their carers and family members. We support the brain injured person in coming to terms with brain injury and reintegrating into their community. 

We offer a wide range of programmes designed to: 

• Enable independence 

• Increase wellbeing 

• Build new skills 

• Relearn old skills lost through the brain injury 

• Improve personal choice. 

We’re affiliated to Headway UK, but receive no financial help or support from them and are entirely responsible for our own service delivery. 

We deliver a range of programmes and activities from our base in Portsmouth. Our programmes are aimed at supporting independence and wellbeing, cognitive re- enablement, and educational and work skills. We also provide outreach services where people can get information and advice and peer group support through social, sports and activities. 

What rehabilitation support do you provide to those with brain injuries? 

We support people at the earliest stage of their rehabilitation, sometimes whilst still in hospital. As senior support worker, I work very closely with the neuro teams at Queen Alexandra Hospital within an inpatient and outpatient setting. I’ll receive referrals from patients and family members who are in hospital or have already been discharged and are in the early stages of their rehabilitation. I’ll meet with families and their loved ones to offer the emotional support following their brain injury. 

I also give information and guidance on: 

• The benefits they’re entitled to 

• Applications for blue badges and travel schemes 

• Carers support. 

This support often continues once they’ve been discharged, including providing further information around brain injury and coping mechanisms for both the individual and their families. 

What are the key things people need to know about brain injury? 

Our aim as a charity is to promote understanding of all aspects of brain injury. We want to provide support, information, advice and services for people with a brain injury, their families and carers. Although brain injury is often categorised as a physical disability, it can be described as a hidden disability. It leaves people with damage that often cannot be seen, but has a tremendous impact on the individual’s ability to reintegrate into community life. 

Many brain-injured people are left with: 

• Personality changes 

• Slowed responses 

• Lack of insight into their limitations 

• Poor communication 

• Memory difficulties 

• Physical and mental changes. Brain injury doesn’t usually affect normal life span, so the problems that these people face often remain with them for the rest of their lives. 

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people and their families following collisions at our dedicated roads accident section