How do you keep calm and carry on in the wake of terrorist attacks? If you’re hoping for answers, I’m not sure I have them.

But I do have some advice from the Home Office to share with employees, which you’ll hopefully find useful.

15 September 2017 update: The latest Home Office information following the awful events at Parsons Green Tube can be found on their website.

As my home town of London became the latest to come under attack at the hands of people seeking to kill and injure, it has left many scared. Me included.

It’s heartbreaking to hear of lives destroyed and families grieving and they are in my prayers. I have a candle on my desk as I type this, which I lit in a moment of stillness and prayer before setting to work today.

I looked at my children yesterday and felt fearful for them, for this world we are living in and for this new normality.

Because it’s not normal. I don’t want them to feel like this, I don’t want to be scared to go about our daily lives while we’re living, loving and learning.

It’s ok to feel scared, that’s human! But it’s not ok to let it linger and let people seeking to spread evil to win. Ever.

So we need to channel fear into resolve. Resolve to carry on.

We’re taught to stand up to bullies, to fight back with words rather than fists and to combat cruelty with kindness.

Now, more than ever, we need to do that.

Managing risk
I found myself analysing my work diary last night, assessing what I’ve got coming up this week, where I need to be in London and whether to change my behaviour. Trying to look at risks and whether there’s anything I need to do differently.

Then I realised that’s the wrong thing to do.

The day after the Westminster attack in March, I held an Internal Communication Masterclass in London. It felt important to continue living, loving and learning. At my Masterclass last week we held a minute’s silence to remember those impacted by the atrocity in Manchester.

I’m finding this helpful to remember:

Finding strength 
My husband and I were reflecting on our childhoods last night and the IRA threats. The situation we find ourselves in today is sadly not new, it’s just a different era.

Last night’s inspiring show of love in Manchester was the great big hug our country needs right now.

As we go to the polls on Thursday, we need to do what we do best – keep calm and carry on, get out and vote, put a brew on and make sure we keep an eye on each other.

What to tell employees and where to get professional help

Once again our emergency services and NHS heroes demonstrated incredible strength and resilience, and their comms teams kept the public informed, updated and reassured.

Thank you.

I was going to publish an article by Jack Adlam today. He’s Deputy Head of Comms at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust and has written a guest post about how they are communicating their HEART values. It felt right to swap it today, so Jack’s article will appear later this week.

What to tell employees

It is never too late to review, revise and refresh your crisis communication plans. If you need help, see my crisis comms checklist.

Don’t forget to remind employees where they can access operational information/updates and publish information about support e.g. employee assistance lines.  

The Home Office has published guidance to help people caught up in the attack at the weekend, it includes information about professional help.

I’m sharing this in case it’s useful for your own internal communication activities.

The Home Office information states….

Police updates
For latest updates on the incident that took place in London Bridge and Borough Market on 3 June you can read more on the Metropolitan Police website.

If you’re a foreign national in the UK
Foreign nationals in the UK affected by this incident may wish to contact their embassy, high commission or consulate, which may also be able to provide information or assistance.

Suspicious behaviour
Report anything suspicious to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or online. In an emergency, call 999.

Public appeal for photos/videos
The police are appealing for any photos or videos that relate to the incident, please upload your photos/videos here.


What to communicate re: immediate support for victims and witnesses

This information is from the Home Office website…

Mental health support
Many symptoms may be a normal response to a terrible experience and will reduce over time. If your symptoms are severe and you are in distress or they last longer than four weeks, please see the information below.

Victim Supportline
Victim Support is currently operating its 24/7 Supportline, offering emotional and practical support for anyone affected by the attack. The number is 0808 168 9111 and is free to call.

Victims’ Information Service
Victims’ Information Service is a national information line helping victims of crime to get information on local support available across England and Wales. The phone number is 0808 168 9293 and it is free to call.

Continuing support for victims, witnesses and those affected
There are mental health treatments available through the NHS to help people deal with the effects of very distressing events. Many people do not go on to develop mental health conditions and will recover naturally, however if your symptoms are severe or continue beyond 4 weeks, this may indicate the need for support from a mental health professional.

The information on the NHS Choices website will outline possible symptoms and describe how to seek help.

Regional services

  • If you live in England you can also contact your local ‘improving access to psychological therapies’ (IAPT) service to be assessed for NHS psychological treatment. Information on your local IAPT services is available from NHS Choices.
  • Northern Ireland: If you or someone you know appears to be in mental health crisis, you should immediately contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.
  • ScotlandBreathing Space offers free and confidential advice for people experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, whatever the cause. 0800 83 85 87. The Breathing Space website.
  • Wales: The Wales Terrorist Attack Support Helpline. Freephone 0800 107 0900 or text the word ‘help’ to 81066. Information is also available on their website.

Victim Support
Victim Support is a national independent charity that provides emotional and practical support for anyone affected by the attack: You may have been directly involved, witnessed it, or you feel impacted by the event. Support can be offered by phone, face to face or through information online. The free confidential Supportline is open 24/7 on 0808 168 9111. Website: www.victimsupport.org.uk

Foundation for Peace
The Foundation for Peace Survivors’ Assistance Network provides specialist support for all those in the UK affected by terrorist attacks at home or overseas, including witnesses and family members. www.survivorsassistancenetwork.org. Call: 01925 581240 or email SAN@foundation4peace.org

See the Home Office website for the latest information.

Thank you for stopping by.

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 5 June 2017.

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