The Fire Fighters Charity's Chief Executive John Parry talks about the expansion of the Charity's services and outlines plans for the future:
The very best of the UK's Fire and Rescue Service and supporters of the Charity were recognised at the eighth annual 'Spirit of Fire' ceremony last month [full story here]. Several themes emerged from the evening's awards ceremony; the Charity is clearly focusing upon improving awareness of its services and reaching more beneficiaries in the Fire Service community.
The Charity intends to spend £1million of its charitable expenditure in the next five years on developing these elements and already the mental health programme has received very positive endorsement in principle from within brigades.
Whilst celebrating his brigade's award successes at Spirit of Fire, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson pledged to help Charity raise the extra £1million a year that is needed. Chairman Ken Seager was delighted with such a positive response. "London Fire Brigade have set the example that we hope all services will support for our future plans," he said.
During my visits to chief fire officers and their teams across the UK, there is recognition that operational and other areas of work can result in an accumulation of stresses that can spill over into work and family life. We firmly believe that active support to the fire community around those issues that can build up over time would be very beneficial and worthwhile. By raising an extra £1milion a year, we will be able to deliver emotional well-being and mental health support services to underpin our existing physical rehabilitation programmes.
So what does the future of The Fire Fighters Charity look like? The answer is that beneficiaries will be the ultimate decision makers. Over 50,000 of the Charity's supporters were recently asked the simple question: "It's your charity, should everyone who can benefit be asked to support it?" In response, 87 per cent gave this their positive support. This gives good grounds for the Charity to enthuse and assist its volunteers across UK to help raise funds - supporters and volunteers such as those exemplified in the award winning brigades of West Yorkshire, Hampshire, and Cheshire.
The five year plan is important, but it does not overshadow the Charity's current work which has been planned for some time and is now coming to fruition. Next year, the Charity's 70th anniversary, will see the opening of a new rehabilitation centre at Marine Court in Littlehampton. And work is also underway to evolve the Charity's overseas and national events, with a view to introducing an exciting new 'signature event' and a taster of Namibia trip, which includes supporting a local community.
Whatever the Fire and Rescue Service of the future may look like, of one thing you can be certain: The Fire Fighters Charity will be there for you, for all of you who work in the fire community. The Charity's already planning for your future with better, more targeted services; new services offering psychological as well as physical therapy; improved facilities with more capacity; easier access and better defined outcomes. The future's bright!