We catch up with Appropriate Adult Cath Hanson to find out more on her role as an AA, and ask whether women have achieved equality in 2018 – and what the key mental health issues facing women today are.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role as an Appropriate Adult?
We are contacted when somebody deemed as being vulnerable is arrested. Our role is to then go in and facilitate communication between themselves and the investigating officer.
We also look at the care plan that the Sergeant has produced for us prior to our arrival just to make sure the person has got capacity: perhaps they’ve been seen by a professional or they could be in custody under the influence. Some people have drug psychosis, it could also be anything from a disability to a learning difficulty, so we look at the care plan and that’s where we get all of our basic information. I’ll then meet the detained person and explain my role – not all of them are happy to see us right away but I will say my success rate is very good and I’d say 99% of the detained people are very grateful by the end of the interview once they realise you’re there to make sure the interview’s going as well as it can.
It’s so important people understand their rights and feel safe in that environment. As an Appropriate Adult I will facilitate good conversation and I make sure the inspector or the investigating officer is saying things that can easily be understood so that everything is clear. It’s quite a demanding role – you can’t just go into a room and twiddle your thumbs.
100 years after women were given the right to vote, do you think we have achieved gender equality?
Not at all. If you look across the board at pay-scales in senior roles you’ll always find that a male would usually have better wages than a female. I feel there’s been a lot of improvement but I think we’ve still got a long way to go before achieving equality.
Why do you think there’s a need for this campaign?
This campaign is hugely important to highlight the fact that women are strong and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be equal. Everyone should be equal. I’d like to see everyone working together as a team. Because males are physically stronger than us but it doesn’t mean they’re mentally stronger as well. I think equality is really important and we can work together.
What changes would you like to see in the way women are treated and perceived?
I’d like to see women recognised for the work they carry out and for their skills because I feel that they are overlooked. I’d also like everyone to realise we have got a voice because we do get dismissed sometimes. I’ve known colleagues in the police force and if they were blonde they were mocked, which is really sad. Unfortunately, this type of stuff is still going on and I think the only way that we can move forward is if we are recognised in our careers and are paid and supported accordingly.
What do you think are the key mental health issues facing women in the modern day?
There are so many. Having a baby is a massive issue as I think mums are penalised if they have a career at the same time as they have children. Their career could then be put on hold and when they go back to the workplace it’s difficult for them to get back on the ladder. After having a baby, the emotions are all over the shop because women feel divided. They want to stay home to look after the baby but also they want to return to work. I think there is a lot of stigma attached. I suppose men don’t show depression and anxieties because they’re often not as open as women who admit they have a problem. Unfortunately, men will brush it under the carpet but women won’t, they’ll talk about it, but then they’re penalised. Another factor for women is that there’s monthly cycles to think about, which does impact female moods. I have noticed over many years working in the care industry that it is always thrown into the ring with people saying, “oh it must be her time of the month”. That is very sad. As women, we do have to overcome a lot of hurdles and strive for a better future for ourselves.
Which women have inspired you?
My Mum inspired me greatly because she had no education but when my brother and I were little, that’s when she went back into education and became a sister in theatre, so I am very proud of what she achieved. She made me the person I am today. There are some wonderful women out there who fight to be recognised and have achieved great things which can inspire others.
Hafal provides an Appropriate Adult service to South Wales, Dyfed Powys, Gwent and North Wales Police. For more information on becoming an AA please go to www.hafal.org/appropriate-adults-recruitment-pack/