Penny Lancaster has revealed that a suicidal young man she saved on a bridge was a university student struggling with Zoom calls during the pandemic.
The model, 50, who has been working with the City of London police as a Special Constable since obtaining her badge in April, explained how she calmly spoke to the man when he approached her on patrol and empathised with him as a mother.
Speaking Gabby Logan’s podcast The Mid Point on Wednesday, Penny added that it ‘felt good’ to help and she later contacted the man to ‘reminded him that there is always someone out there that will help’.
Support: Penny Lancaster has revealed the suicidal young man she saved on a bridge was a student struggling with Zoom calls in the pandemic (pictured on Loose Women on Tuesday)
Part of Penny’s role in the police is to patrol the bridges in London, with the mother-of-two saying that ‘at one point’ there was someone jumping every day.
Reflecting on the shift where she helped the student, Penny said: ‘It just so happened that this young man approached me and was just crying and shaking and said “I feel really suicidal, I don’t know what to do, help me”.
‘The priority was to assist him off the bridge and get him away from immediate danger and find a quiet place to sit and talk to him.
‘Be that down to earth person, forget you’ve got a uniform and [I’m] a mother so I could empathise with him.
At work: The model, 50, who works as a Special Constable with the City of London police, explained how empathised with the man as a mother (pictured on patrol in June)
‘[You] try to understand but of course you can never really put yourself in someone’s shoes like that.
‘He opened up about his relationship with his parents, his father was very religious… and his mother was calling, asking where he was because she was concerned.’
Penny continued: ‘He was in second year of university, was struggling with all the Zoom calls and not being in contact with people.
‘The first thing you do, as well as getting them to safety, is to call out a mental health triage nurse. She joined us after about 20 minutes so together we chatted and in the end, he was happy and felt safe enough to go home.
‘I later contacted him with my police device and made sure that he was safe and just to remind him that there is always someone out there that will help. It felt good.’
And taking more about her role and mental health in the pandemic, she said: ‘We look after the bridges. I think a lot of people because of the pandemic have been thinking of taking their life, sadly.
‘At one point, it was every day there was someone that was jumping. A lot of the tasks we were given was to man the bridges.’
The TV personality, who joined City of London police after appearing on the TV show Famous and Fighting Crime, continued: ‘I think when people think of the police they think of them as a force, something to be reckoned with, like a power force of energy that will take someone down and think of them as an aggressive counterpart.
‘But really, a lot of the time our priority is to preserve life. You are out there dealing with a lot of really vulnerable people.
On the beat: Penny also detailed how most of the calls she attends are related to mental health and the job is about ‘taking care of people’ (seen on Good Morning Britain at the start of June)
‘Nine times out of ten, I would say of all the cases that we are dealing with, 80 per cent mental health issues are involved.
‘You’ve got to really take care of people out there.’
Penny also detailed her time in the police and how she’d been patrolling bridges in the pandemic while appearing on Good Morning Britain at the start of June.
She said that she hadn’t made any arrests during her five duties to date, but had helped a person on a bridge, who was in ‘desperate’ need.
Penny told hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley: ‘When you think of policing, you think of the most violent crimes but we’re out there to help the most vulnerable.
‘At this particular time there’s a lot of incidents on the bridges and I did help someone who was very desperate on the bridge the other night. It can be rewarding in so many ways.’
Undercover: The model, who appeared on Channel 4’s Famous and Fighting Crime in 2019, (pictured) previously said she’s gone unrecognised in the uniform despite her public profile
Penny also said that her rocker husband Rob is very supportive of her new career in the emergency services.
When asked if he tried to dissuade her from taking the job, she said: ‘Not at all. It is dangerous, but the police are the public, the public are the police.
‘There’s women and men alike – brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, we’re just regular people but we put that uniform on to help protect.’
Penny has managed to go under the radar while on patrol, with her saying no one has recognised her thanks to the uniform despite her public profile.
She insists the ‘stab vest, armour, baton, cuffs’ ensure she’s ‘dressed as a regular’.
Penny revealed in April that she had become a qualified police officer after training for City Of London Police on one weeknight every week and from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday every other weekend.
She was inspired to undergo training after taking part in Channel 4’s 2019 series, Famous and Fighting Crime, in which celebrities shadowed police offers on the beat.
‘I had to sit exams, English and maths type of exams, and go for an interview with two officers. And then I did a fitness test which was the bleep test which was pretty tricky so I had to get fit for that and I passed.’
For help, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org
Supportive husband: Penny’s rocker husband Rod Stewart, 76, is standing by his wife’s choice to become a police officer, and she insists she is safe while out on patrol