Some of the ways we are working with partners to improve outcomes for communities
Supporting independent living for people with learning difficulties
Since 2005, the Service has been a part of a partnership initiative steering group - the Keeping Safe group. The group has developed a resource for people with Learning Difficulties, based on an original concept by Hertfordshire Police and as a result of a survey regarding hate crime against service users. Following consultation with service users who live with learning difficulties, an A5 pack has been produced, enhanced to include information on fire safety, internet safety rights, reporting hate crime and using other emergency services. www.keepingsafe.org.uk
Service users have been involved at every stage of development and the production of the packs is being undertaken by an organisation employing people with Learning Difficulties www.pluss.org.uk The Steering group is coordinating responses and monitoring outcomes of the packs. Feedback so far shows that the pack is improving the knowledge and confidence for people living this community, highlighting rights and, importantly, tackling hate crime against this vulnerable group.
In early 2007, the Service was included on the Devon and South West Regional Migrant Worker Steering Group. An early task was to develop a Welcome Pack in partnership for new migrants. Based on consultation and a review of existing resources, an A5 pack including leaflets which can easily be updated was produced and distributed. Polish was the first language to be produced with a further 5 languages now being included based on need. Listening to migrants, feedback is now collated in a different way in order to improve the resource. Migrant Worker Hubs are currently being developed in order to monitor and review Service provision. DSFRS recently facilitated a multi agency consultation event.
The Deaf Community
As a result of consultation with Deaf people, an SMS number was introduced so that information can be passed both ways in a format that is accessible to the community. Four partnership consultation events, ‘Sign Vision’, have been held since 2005 where the needs of the community are reviewed. We provide Fire Safety advice in BSL and have recently prepared a training business case to provide deaf awareness training for advocates across the service, including bespoke BSL signing training for use in emergency situations, such as ‘Keep still’ and ‘Is there anyone else in the building’. We also provide BSL interpreters for engagement such as Home Fire Safety visits as required. We have a text information line to allow Deaf people to contact DSFRS for non-emergency advice and information (text 078 00 00 2476)
Our engagement with travelling communities has developed significantly over the past two years. Thanks to the community knowledge and commitment of individual firefighters and partnership working with Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officers, we have some areas of real engagement and outcomes, particularly in Torbay and Somerset. This year we are involved in several regional and local events, including running an open training seminar for staff and members, delivered by Devon Race Equality Council.
We are seeking to demonstrate leadership in improving the safety of living conditions within the travelling community across the two counties. Work underway includes the development of corporate guidance resources for all Stations to use, with guidance on initial engagement and the particular safety hazards associated with the Gypsy/Roma /Traveller lifestyle, such as a safe distance between dwellings and carbon monoxide detection. This corporate resource is being developed by the Community and Workplace Equalities Team, with its content driven by a firefighter as a result of her sustained engagement with these communities.
In Somerset, DSFRS is developing a partnership with Mendip District Council and key people in the travelling community, with the aim of beginning a programme of fitting fire and carbon monoxide equipment and proving general, domestic fire safety advice.
Domestic Violence (DV) Sanctuary project
We work with the Family Intervention Project at Safer Communities (Torbay) - where we have a seconded Firefighter in partnership with the Police DV unit and the MARAC team, (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). We visit women and families in referred homes with a Police Officer and decide the best room where a ‘sanctuary’ can be provided. This room is then fitted with a 1 hour fire door, we supply and fit smoke alarms and carry out a HFSV and supply and fit an arson resistant letter box bag. The Police install a panic button and supply mobile phones. We also talk to the family about a fire routine and fire escape procedure.
Our Fire Investigation officers have attended DV awareness training to assist with investigation and sensitivity around possible DV incidents.
Taunton fire station is involved in a project to improve community cohesion and the life chances of young men in the area through boxing. Originally the boxing club was set up to service the East side of Taunton. This area is one of the more deprived parts of Taunton with a recognised issue with boys and young men being involved in anti social behaviour.
The boxing club was due to close, due to a lack of appropriate accommodation - so a community fire station was offered. The support for the club also comes from Taunton Deane District Council, Avon and Somerset Police and the local action teams.
The head coach spoke of the difference that the club had made to several young people who had increased self confidence and self esteem, had a found a focus in life, and as a result were changing their lifestyles. Instead of being involved in anti social behaviour, they were keeping fit to get better at boxing.