Like many of you, VPD families have spouses working from home while trying to juggle child-care and home schooling. Where their experience often differs though, is that VPD officers have to deal with (in the moment and in the aftermath) situations most of us can’t even imagine. And then they bring that home. It’s a heavy load to bear at the best of times.
VPD offers a wide-range of support for its members – physical and mental health, emotional well-being and resiliency programs. VPD is a leading police service when it comes to developing and implementing support resources and Chief Constable Palmer has been a powerful advocate for not just VPD officers, but all police officers in Canada.
It’s this progressive attitude and approach that convinced Erica McKeddie to start a Vancouver Chapter of Beyond the Blue – a community of support for police spouses and their families. Vancouver Beyond the Blue uses a peer-support model to provide families with access to information, education and training to thrive in their roles as the support system for police officers.
It is not a support group or a place to air gripes or gossip, nor is it supposed to take the place of resources and programs that VPD provides its members and families. It is a complementary initiative that provides a safe space for police families to share their experiences and to support one another.
VPD fully supports this program and the Vancouver Police Foundation is proud to have provided two-years of funding to help get it up and running. Erica works closely with Cst. Ali Gailus from the VPD’s Employee Wellness Unit. Together, they are able to quickly answer family’s questions and provide relevant information to the group.
Beyond the Blue is present at events as well as hosting them throughout the year, but the primary way of connecting people has always been online. The website has a members-only section and the social media groups are also private and moderated. In this time of COVID-19, it has never mattered more.
Erica notes that she has quelled inaccuracies posted within the group and has directed families to accurate, official sources of information. Her quick response times, aided by the incredibly strong partnership with Cst. Gailus, has helped to build trust and respect in the forum. With VPD officers experiencing a high volume of stressful calls as well as the potential of infection, plus their families stretched beyond capacity, Beyond the Blue provides a safe, welcoming space to help bolster spirits, and keep people connected.
Erica is married to Bryan, a 19 year member of the VPD who followed in the footsteps of his parents and step-father to devote his life to keeping our city safe. They have two children who are very proud of their dad…and their mom.