Support for Police Officers from Climbing Out

Saturday, 12 March, 2022

Climbing Out is a charity that runs 5 day outdoor activity programmes that rebuild confidence, self-esteem and motivation in people who have been through a life changing injury, illness or trauma.

We have always offered support to emergency service workers, but the last couple of years have shown us people working in these sectors need support more than ever before. Climbing Out has places on programmes specifically for members of the police force.

A 5 day Climbing Out programme can be life changing.

There are 3 parts to our programmes that have proved vital to unlocking change:

  • Outdoor activities that stretch boundaries and push comfort zones
  • Mental resilience coaching that challenge mindsets and provides the tools to move forwards
  • A group setting to build long term friendships and a network of support

This gives participants the tools to manage themselves, helping them to deal with not just what’s happened in the past or what they are going through right now, but also any challenges they may face in the future. This is empowering.

The environment we create develops a trust with participants that allows us to challenge perspectives that may be holding people back in life. We are passionate about developing people to have the tools so they can manage their own mental wellbeing, take responsibility for their lives moving forwards and fulfil their potential. Most importantly, we believe this gives participants the opportunity to be happy.

To find out more about Climbing Out, visit:



Instagram: @ClimbingOutCharity

Twitter: @ClimbingOut_

Here are stories from 2 of our previous participants…


Carl is a police officer who has been through surgery, a life-changing illness, a marriage breakdown, and bereavement. His life as he knew it changed and he fell into a bleak period. He first found Climbing Out while we were doing online workshops during lockdown. Since then, he has attended programmes to build on his development.

Carl: “Despite everything that I had seen, experienced and trained for as a police officer, nothing prepared me for major surgery, life-changing illness, collapse of a marriage and bereavement.

“I lost everything that meant the most to me - my family, my physical health, my mental health, and my identity. I was grieving my old life and could not accept my new life. I entered a period of utter darkness and sadness that I could never have imagined was possible.

“Like many people in crisis, I blamed others, I blamed the world, and I blamed myself. I turned to unhealthy and non-sustainable coping mechanisms. But I found support and reached out for help.

“After a course of CBT sessions laid the foundations of recovery, I began to methodically rebuild myself, accept my physical restrictions, and improve my mental ill health. When the force Wellbeing Lead informed me of a series of COVID friendly online Climbing Out sessions I jumped at the chance to take part. The sessions were not only useful, but they felt inspiring. Even though I had recently completed CBT, I still took so much away from the sessions that I continue to use.

“Climbing Out has made a definite positive change. I have a long battle ahead of me yet, but I am determined to overcome the adversity that has been dealt to me.” After his Level 2 Climbing Out programme he said, “Even now I am still realising the things I learnt. I imagine I will do for some time. I am not the person I had come to believe I was. People who care for me have told me many times that I should not push it, not with my heart, despite the doctors giving me the thumbs up. I had come to believe I was capable of less.

“The week with Climbing Out pushed me well past my own perceived limits, and that was an unbelievable, and very emotional feeling. Getting to the top of the first hill had me holding in tears of happiness and pride. It changed the way I think about myself from ‘Well, maybe I could, under different circumstances’ to ‘I can’.

“This was a pattern that repeated itself with every achievement. I found elements of my old self, elements I had lost such as self-confidence and motivation.

“The power of teamwork and mutual support can never be underestimated, and had I been on my own I would have turned around and headed back many times. The support of everyone there helped me to keep putting one foot in front of another and get up those hills, even if I was considerably slower than everyone else. It also helped me to feel enthusiastic in the mornings when I was in agony and could easily have taken some pain relief and headed to bed or moped around. I wanted to get out there with everyone else. 

“One thing that I may not make a big deal out of, but was extremely important, was the arrival and meeting with a new group of people. I now know that I am safe without my support network around me and when in a new situation out of my comfort zone. 

“The Covid lockdown came along at the same point I was at my lowest and enabled me to hide away from the world. Trying to re-establish myself has been tough, and I still have a way to go, but being away for the week has shown me that I am stronger than I thought. I truly have found some motivation and self-confidence.

“It’s hard to find the words to explain how grateful that I was able to attend the programme. I have gained so much that even the therapist in my MH sessions has seen a positive difference.

“It’s not just the pushing of my own limits either; seeing people thriving despite what they were all dealing with reminded me that it’s not just me in this little bubble of life and everyone faces hard times at some point. It’s easy to forget this when you get caught up in a hole of depression and become withdrawn from other people.

“The week has honestly been life-changing for the better.”


Jonathan attended a Climbing Out programme specifically for members of the emergency services, NHS and military.

Jonathan’s life as a police officer, husband and father changed overnight.

Jonathan said, “I joined the South Yorkshire Police at 18 - their youngest ever recruit. I then transferred back home to Northumbria Police in 2006. I had always been an active person, enjoying general fitness, skydiving and later on, a touch of boxing. 

“I’m still growing up and I am lucky enough to have four daughters, a wonderful wife, and a successful and interesting career behind me.

“The last time I can recall silence was September 2017 on a family holiday in the States. This is a lasting memory. This is when my life was ‘normal’ or at the very least ‘less complicated’.  After this, things become fuzzy.

“In early March 2018 I went to work for a normal day in the office - a traffic officer driving the fast cars and attending serious and fatal road collisions, investigating them and helping victims of families with necessary and very unpleasant processes. My tour of duty took me to hospital babysitting a prisoner who had just killed an innocent member of public with his car. I was on duty until the early hours of the morning. When I got to bed and opened my eyes... my world changed.

“I opened my eyes to cold shivers, lying on the floor unable to barely stand. I will never truly know the beginnings of what happened, some doctors say the flu, others say an infection caught in the hospital. This was then compounded by Labyrinthitis, which continued for around 3 months. I was unable to stand up straight or walk in a straight line. 

“My immune system then failed me further resulting in double pneumonia, and then added gifts of waking to fits and seizures in the middle of the night, with countless trips to hospital.  

“Then things took a turn for the worse, the infection managed to get into my ears. After a heavy doped up night on meds I went to bed. I then awoke to my curse, which has also become my blessing, oddly enough. 

“When I opened my eyes, I was immersed in an orchestra of alien sounds. These sounds were not in my ears but in my head. To this day they have never left. 

“I live in a world of high-pitched deafening screams, jumbo jet engines, clicks, hums, whistles, and some hearing impairment. These surround me every second of every waking moment. I never escape. I could go on but needless to say this has taken me to the bottom of the well and beyond. 

“In attempts to escape these sounds I have slept outside for months on end, on camp beds, under extractor fans on the kitchen bench for weeks, whilst at the same time suffering clinical depression, anxiety, and very dark thoughts.

“My wife and children had lost me, (despite on-going counselling every week). Jonathan, the dad, and husband had departed... In his place was a ghost roaming the garden and streets in the early hours of the morning, trying to find a moment of quiet solace. I was a broken man mentally and physically, unshaven, and unkempt for almost a year...

“Now enter Leo - my personal saviour. He’s a cocker spaniel, the dog I had always asked for and never got. He was a 10-week-old puppy. My wife simply says, “he brought you back to us all Jonathan.”  He kept me busy and took every moment of my waking day to look after him, whilst I was off work and unable to work for almost a year.

"In a nutshell I was forced to focus, and this led to learning to perform simple tasks again for the ball of fur I had fallen in love with. Simple tasks led then to routine, and routine led to a new normal. He never left my side.

 “I really can’t put into words the difference the Climbing Out programme has made to me, ‘flicking a switch’ that had been turned off over the last 3 years. The programme showed me the strengths I had which I’d been choosing to ignore.

“I do not live the way I used to - every day has its challenges. I have a new simpler way of living. I have learnt to coexist with a body that is not entirely my own. I tire quickly, I become mentally drained faster, short tempered (this is improving), I am distracted easily, and my memory is shot. I am now a restricted officer, having been very well looked after by my friends and colleagues at work. 

“The sounds in my head are like unruly children - they have no manners, interrupt all the time, and make me jump when I least expect it. It has taken around three years to learn how to coexist. I have survived ‘the dark night of the soul’ and now I am awake.

“Now the grass looks greener, the air smells fresher and I take nothing for granted anymore. Life is sweet and I now treasure every moment and every person around me who is important. My new normal may even be a better normal than my old normal. Jonathan the dad and husband are back in the room, and he never intends to leave again!”



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