Young uniformed volunteers from throughout the West Midlands demonstrated their skills and showcased the innovative Safeside facility to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, over the weekend.

Mr Pickles was welcomed to Safeside in Birmingham ( by Chief Fire Officer Vij Randeniya and Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, before meeting young members of schemes funded through the Supporting Inclusion Programme.

The Secretary of State took part in a first aid session with youngsters from St John Ambulance, whose 'Stick It' course encourages best use of materials found nearby to help and stabilise casualties. Following his hands-on session, Mr Pickles met with Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Hales.

DCFO Hales, who is also Chief Fire Officers' Association lead for children and young people, said: "Thousands of the region's young people visit Safeside and our facilities at Handsworth every year. They learn vital lessons about fire prevention and home, street and transport safety. This complements the many thousands of school visits made by our firefighters.

"In two months' time we'll learn the full extent of the latest reductions in our government funding. Like the wider public sector, we're braced for further cuts on top of those of the last two years.

"The value of the facilities seen by Mr Pickles today can't be overstated. We're braced for more cuts, but what's essential is that they're manageable and equitable. If the cuts aren't fair, and we take the brunt again, there will be a big question mark hanging over the future of our very effective fire prevention and education work."

The event at Safeside brought together representatives and members of uniformed youth groups that benefit from Supporting Inclusion Programme funding through Youth United.

Added Mr Hales: "It was heartening to see some of the excellent work carried out by these groups. They help to protect and serve the West Midlands, foster community cohesion and are helping to shape the lives of young people for the better − many of them from deprived areas and troubled backgrounds who would otherwise be harder to support and influence."


Posted October 8th, 2012 at 0915 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: