eastsidesafesideThousands more schoolchildren, many vulnerable and from disadvantaged backgrounds, are set to receive ‘inspirational’ safety advice at the West Midlands’ Safeside facilities.

Nearly 37,000 visitors have passed through the doors of the Safeside at Eastside centre in Birmingham since it opened in 2009, and those numbers could increase further with recommendations on how the centre operates set to be approved by West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority today [10 June].

Key role in WMFS education services
Safeside’s programmes play a key role in the prevention and education services provided by West Midlands Fire Service, all designed to make the West Midlands safer. The majority of visitors are primary school Key Stage 2 pupils, but secondary students and others with special educational needs, plus young adults and parents of younger children are also among the target groups.  

Councillor Keith Chambers, who chairs the Scrutiny Committee, said: “It was clear that Safeside’s staff and its dozens of volunteers do fantastic work. Thousands of our children are living safer lives as a result.

"Our recommendations are designed to bolster that work, and ensure that the safety, health and wellbeing of more of the West Midlands’ most vulnerable people are improved."

Encouraging vistors to act safely
Safeside at Eastside is a state-of-the-art, scenario-based experimental learning centre, designed to encourage visitors to think and act safely. It is complemented by a smaller centre, Safeside at Handsworth.  

The flagship indoor ‘village’ includes a realistic, life-sized street scene, complete with pedestrian crossing, car and double-decker bus, a house, shop, pub and police station. Visitors also encounter a full-sized train carriage and rail track, and water-based scenarios.

The fourteen Safeside recommendations to be considered by the Executive Committee on Monday include:
• continuing to target priority, vulnerable groups in order to make the West Midlands safer
• designating a member of the Authority ‘Safeside Champion’, to promote and report regularly on the centre’s work
• Authority members working to raise awareness of Safeside within their respective councils
• exploring sponsorship and external funding opportunities to help subsidise the cost of school visits
• a new push to promote the centre to headteachers, governors and school groups, and Year 5 teachers in particular
• widening the centre’s user base through link-ups with agencies including the police and other partners