Choir puts mental health in spotlight

The Blue Light Choir covered a range of songs, including Proud and Everybody Hurts, during the concert at Sage Gateshead.
The Blue Light Choir covered a range of songs, including Proud and Everybody Hurts, during the concert at Sage Gateshead.

A choir made up of members of the emergency services did a big performance to raise awareness of mental health.

Those in the Blue Light Choir work for Northumbria Police, Durham Constabulary, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, North East Ambulance Service and elsewhere in the NHS.

They recently performed a full concert to a sell-out crowd of 400 people at Sage Gateshead.

Community Support Officer Holly Went organised the event. She is part of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Policing Team – the area she covers includes Longhorsley, Mitford and Netherwitton.

She performed a solo rendition of Make You Feel My Love during the concert and the songs covered by the whole choir included Proud and Everybody Hurts.

“I came up with the idea for a choir around two years ago and back then, the idea was simply to just bring together all of the emergency services in a social setting,” she said.

“It has developed a bit from then and now it is a really large network of around 70 people in which we can talk about the strains of the job and how it affects our mental health and well-being.

“People travel from all across the North East for rehearsals and I have personally found it really supportive to have a network of like-minded people who I can speak to about the pressures of the job.

“The charity Mind has a regional base up here and it has already done a lot of work with the emergency services to create a Blue Light Network where they can share good practice.

“This is an extension of that and is just another forum where people can come together outside of work and speak to each other about any struggles they may be going through.

“Figures show that nine in 10 emergency service staff have suffered stress, low mood or poor mental health at some point in their career, so these kind of groups are vital.

“It’s amazing that we had the chance to perform at Sage Gateshead and it was a night I will remember. I want to thank them for allowing us to host this event there, as it does make it all the more special.”

Northumbria Police has recruited a number of Blue Light champions within the workforce who offer specialist peer support to their colleagues.