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News and Media - Interserve

ITV’s This Morning showcases incredible recovery of ex-police officer after horrific assault: with help from psychologists and new employer Interserve

by Interserve Press Office | Jun 23, 2020

ITV’s This Morning showcases incredible recovery of ex-police officer after horrific assault: with help from psychologists and new employer InterserveITV’s This Morning has broadcast a moving interview with an Interserve security manager, who has fought back from disability and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following a brutal attack which left him contemplating suicide. He tells of the critical role played by managers at his new employer Interserve in addressing stigma and allowing him to find purpose in a supportive environment.

Essex-based father-of-two, Russell Dean, was assaulted while on duty as a British Transport Police Officer in 2011. Russell was attending a routine anti-social behaviour call when the man he was attempting to arrest became violent and, in the struggle, Russell collided with a metal post.

He tore all his knee ligaments, broke his femur in eight places and suffered a three-inch break in his tibia. Russell, previously fit and healthy, was told he would never run again.

Incredibly, he rehabilitated himself physically: but his psychological battle had only just begun.

Aged just 29, Russell was medically discharged from the police force, after suffering severe panic attacks at work and being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In advance of his interview with This Morning, Russell said: “I was devastated to leave the force. I cried throughout my leaver’s interview. I lost everything, my career, partner, house and car.”

A string of psychologists told him he’d never fully recover. He became a recluse, trying to earn a living as a Personal Trainer, but rarely venturing out in public.

Russell had suicidal thoughts and on one occasion planned his own death. But, in 2016, after learning about Nik and Eva Speakman - resident psychologists on ITV’s This Morning - his sister wrote to ITV to seek their help.

After an emotional broadcast with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on the classic breakfast programme, Russell began sustained therapy with the Speakmans.

With the help of the celebrity psychologists, Russell made incredible progress, and conquered the worst of his PTSD:

“They gave me hope and showed me that my attacker was targeting the police uniform – not me – and that my enemies only existed in my head.”

Russell - who had dreamed of being a police officer since childhood - has now found a second chance at a career making communities safer, this time in the security division of support services company Interserve.

Russell was nervous about revealing his mental health struggles to Interserve’s sector director Liz Cummins, but wanted to be honest.

“I thought I was ruining my chances for promotion. The stigma around mental health almost made me feel ashamed about my problems, but Liz was absolutely superb and made me feel human without being patronising.”

Russell started at Interserve as a security guard in January 2018 and made rapid progress. He is now an account manager in Interserve’s First Security business, where he manages a £5m a year portfolio, and is responsible for 87 colleagues, 19 security contracts and 27 sites.

He said: “Interserve provides opportunities to people who work hard because it is a brilliant company which is involved in such a wide variety of work and there are so many avenues to progress.

“My experiences with Interserve have shown me the importance of speaking out about how you feel, of seeking help, of being honest and above all of having hope in the idea that you can get better."

Liz Cummins, Sector Director at Interserve, said:

“I’m delighted Russell is progressing at Interserve. His story is an inspiration to all those who have barriers to overcome.

“Interserve invests in independent counselling services such as the Listening Centre and has supported colleagues through the COVID-19 pandemic by rolling out our Thrive wellbeing application.

“But our line managers are critical too: sometimes, simply by being a good listener, you can provide someone with the support they need to grow”

ITV called Russell last week to ask him to meet the Speakmans again and discuss the progress he has made since their intervention. The interview will be broadcast on This Morning, at 10.45am on Tuesday 23rd June.

Speaking in advance of his interview, Russell said:

“I feel passionately about telling my story, because only by talking openly about mental health can we fight against the stigma.

“Sadly, there’s still the view that once you have a mental health problem that’s your label and you are stuck with it. But with the right help you can get better.”

- Ends -

For more information contact:

Heather Vernon, Director, Woburn Partners
Telephone: 07747 097821

Stephen Hallmark, Corporate Affairs Manager (Interserve Facilities Management and Community)
Telephone: 07484 085098

About Interserve Group Limited

Interserve Group Limited is one of the world’s foremost support services, construction and equipment services companies. We offer advice, design, construction, equipment, facilities management and frontline public services. We are headquartered in the UK and have consolidated revenues of £2.9bn and a workforce of circa 53,500 people worldwide.

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