An interactive safety centre run by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, and supported by a number of organisations, is now able to reach more people thanks to the delivery of a new minibus. 

The 14-seater minibus, which was donated by Northumbria Police, was first used on February 4, to transport a group of older people from Gateshead Sheltered Housing to the centre. The minibus also has access for people with disabilities. 

SafetyWorks is one of only a handful of interactive safety centres across the country. Based in Benwell, Newcastle it provides safety messages using 14 realistic scenarios, allowing vulnerable people of all ages from across Tyne and Wear to learn how to avoid everyday hazards and stay safe. 

Set in a former upholstery factory, Safetyworks has re-created an inner city environment including a high street complete with Sainsbury's store, police station, hospital, Metro station, park, lake, building site, dark alley and a fully functional house complete with a burning room, a burnt-out room and a flooded room.  

Safety messages given include home safety, road safety, safer travel, water safety, the consequences of crime, safety on the Metro, drugs and alcohol awareness, internet safety, fire safety, personal safety, consequences of vandalism, dealing with emergencies, first aid, assisted living and environment sustainability.  The centre is fully interactive and incorporates sounds, smells and imagery. 

Area Manager for Community Safety John Baines, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The centre is an excellent example of how by working together we can help make our communities safer. It is often the same people who are most vulnerable in our society, whether that's from crime, fire or traffic, so it is important that we work together to help protect them.  

"I'm sure the new minibus will help us relay those messages to many more people who may otherwise have been unable to come to the centre." 

Northumbria Police helped to fund the centre from when it was first set up in 2001. They continue to be a major contributor, providing funding for the centre as well as facilitators to help get across the safety messages.   

PC Ed Ward, of Fenham and Scotswood Neighbourhood Policing Team, told FIRE: "SafetyWorks is an impressive educational resource which the students remember and enjoy using because it is interactive. Police officers find it a really interesting and fun way to get our messages across to both young and older people.  

"Northumbria Police is pleased to support this facility and funding was provided by the Northumbria Police Authority Grant Pool to buy the minibus to enable people of all ages to be able to access SafetyWorks." 

Whilst SafetyWorks is run by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service it is funded and resourced by a range of other organisations as well, including Northumbria Police, Sainsburys, Nexus, St John Ambulance, The Environment Agency, Youth Offending Teams and The Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and all five of the local authorities in Tyne and Wear.  

Nexus provided and built a realistic Metro station and platform with an actual Metro train to help promote safety awareness near metro lines and at metro stations.   

Sainsbury's provided a fully equipped and stocked mini Sainsbury's store and they will be educating all elements of safety, health and well being, addressing issues such as the under age sale of fireworks, alcohol and cigarettes and healthy eating.    

To find out more about SafetyWorks or to book a visit, please go to  email or call 0191 444 1130.  


Date posted: 09.02.11