West Midlands Fire Service's interactive education centre, Safeside at Eastside, welcomed its 10,000th visitor on May 13. Pupils from Bordesley Green Primary School were the visitors who helped the Vauxhall Road centre clock up the milestone. Pupil Nabeel Chowdhary was the 10,000th person through the door, and he was presented with a certificate and a special Safeside fleece to mark the occasion.
Safeside is a fully operational, life-sized village with houses, shops, a road, a canal and rail tracks with a real train, all under one roof. It cost £2.3 million to build was opened in April 2009 by his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. Pete Wilson, Safeside centre manager, said: "Safeside has been a phenomenal success since opening its doors last year. Schools from across the West Midlands and beyond have been flocking to visit the centre to help educate children about the hazards that exist out there in the big wide world."
At present, Safeside only runs a programme for primary school children, placing them in small groups with visitor guides who lead them around a number of interactive safety scenarios and explaining how they can make safe choices. In the Autumn, there are plans to begin rolling out new programmes for secondary school pupils and parents/carers or children under two-years-old. Safeside is also looking for new volunteer visitor guides. A spokesperson told FIRE: "It's a great opportunity to help young people understand how to stay safe, while at the same time developing some transferable skills which employers value highly."