American police visit Cornwall to trial Surfwell

From Devon & Cornwall Police:

American police officers will visit Cornwall this week to trial Surfwell’s world-leading wellbeing programme pioneered by Devon and Cornwall Police.

The US team from a non-profit organisation called Surf Waves Enjoy Life (SWEL) are in the UK for four days to understand more about how the Surfwell programme works and learn how they can develop it for use in America for first responders in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police.

The visit will explore a collaboration between Devon and Cornwall Police and SWEL to help promote surf therapy as a method of improving mental health and wellbeing for emergency services colleagues ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

The Surfwell programme which aims to help emergency service workers improve their mental health and wellbeing is now being recognised internationally as a result of collaboration with the International Surf Therapy Organisation. It cites the programme as being vital to surf therapy research efforts and public health improvement on a global scale.

Surfwell has been running surf therapy sessions since June 2019 and since the programme started, there have been over 200 participants from both Devon and Cornwall police, other blue light colleagues and critical care teams within the NHS.

Surfwell Co-founder, James Mallows said: “We are excited to develop this programme and build on the success we have seen in supporting our colleagues in the UK. By working with SWEL and our colleagues within United States law enforcement, we hope to be able to offer this model to our international colleagues.”

The programme has funding from Devon and Cornwall Police as well as charities including Police CARE UK and Oskar Kilo and is now being offered to Police forces in the UK as an addition to the current wellbeing programmes that are in place.

SWEL was founded by retired Police Sergeant, Rob Sanderson in 2020 to help serve emergency workers and veterans across America. He will be visiting the region alongside four serving Kansas police officers to understand more about the Surfwell programme.

SWEL CEO Rob Sanderson said: “The Surfwell team will be demonstrating how they deliver the programme to their participants through a session which will take place at Fistral beach in Newquay. The session will focus on improving mental health and wellbeing through group mentoring, yoga, and a guided one-to-one surf session. The therapy has been academically proven to help with trauma, depression, suicide and other mental health issues”

Surfwell Co-founder, Sam Davies said “this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase a world class programme, which has demonstrated a positive impact for our staff in Devon and Cornwall. The academic basis and demonstrable absence reduction, achieved by the programme has led to international attention and we are now excited to be developing global collaborations and support our vision to be a sustainable and world leading police service.”

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