moneyThe UK's first fire service funding stream has made the lives of tens of thousands of South Yorkshire residents safer according to the first-year report on the Safer Stronger Communities Reserve project.

Around £500,000 was given to community groups, charities and other partners via South Yorkshire Fire Authority’s scheme which saw groups bid for as little as £5,000 or as much as £250,000 to support projects which reduce injuries, save lives and make their local community safer.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Jim Andrews, said: "All the year one funded projects are excellent examples of how a small level of financial support from the Fire Authority can enable local communities to make a real difference in improving fire safety.

"The fund was heavily over-subscribed last year and the 19 projects the Authority gave money to really were the best of the best. It’s brilliant to now be able to see many of those funded projects making tens of thousands of local people safer."

Sprinklers and baby room thermometers
Key objectives for the fund include prioritising the most vulnerable, collaboration and data sharing. Highlights of the scheme which saw 19 different organisations receive money last year, included:
• 3,000 baby room thermometers handed out to all expectant parents in Barnsley. The thermometers are specially designed to include display important messages about fire safety and smoke free homes, and could be adopted nationwide.
• A cutting edge research project to help the fire service predict where fires are most likely to occur in the future. The research is being led by Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield
• Sprinklers for vulnerable older people at a sheltered housing in Barnsley. The potentially life saving systems were fitted at Churchfield Housing, owned by Berneslai Homes
• A Doncaster Council led ‘Fakes Cause Fires’ campaign which is using posters, videos and pocket sized information cards to educate residents about the fire dangers associated with buying counterfeit goods
• Accessible training sessions, workbooks, DVDs and other educational resources suitable for people with learning difficulties and autism, developed by Rotherham charity Speakup Self Advocacy

To find out more about Speakup Self Advocacy book your place at Learning Disability Today London 2015

Head of prevention and protection Steve Helps, said: "Fires have been falling steadily in South Yorkshire for many years and the county is safer now than it has been at any time in its history. But for as long as people continue to suffer the devastating effects of fires, there will always be more work to do.

"The best way for us to further reduce emergency incidents is to work with partners like those which have received funding over the last year. It’s these organisations which can help us reach the most vulnerable people in our communities."

Applications for a second round of funding have just closed, with decisions on the next batch of funded partners expected to be made in July. The £2 million fund has been set aside from the Authority’s reserves.

“A particular focus for is in coming years is the wider postive impact the fire and rescue service can make in our communities, particularly in terms of improving people’s health and wellbeing. Many of the schemes we’ve already funded reflect this aspiration,” Helps added.