accessibility & help

British Red Cross calls for more volunteers to help families after house fires

For immediate release: Wednesday, 28 September 2011
For further information: Samantha Whitwham
Contact number: 0117 3012608 or 07834 525 350

A British Red Cross service which offers practical and emotional support to people after a fire, flood or other emergency is being extended to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from 1 October. Additional volunteers are needed to support the service.

When disaster strikes trained volunteers from the Red Cross fire and emergency support service (FESS) are on hand to help. Called out by the fire service or energy providers, the team of trained volunteers with a specially adapted vehicle provide practical and emotional support to people affected by house fires or power cuts. 

Hazel Fletcher, 49 from Keynsham, has been volunteering with FESS since 2007 when she heard about the service after completing a first aid course at her local Red Cross centre. “I thought it was a fantastic idea and signed myself and my husband, Tim, up then and there”, Hazel explained. “I’ve had a house fire myself and so understand the devastation it can cause. After the fire service had left I remember feeling completely dazed. I certainly could have used some support and advice at that point.

“I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being a FESS volunteer. Being able to relieve some of the stresses of the people we help or even just sitting and listening to them talk can make such a big difference. People really do appreciate the service we offer.”

The fire and emergency support service, which currently operates weekends and week nights, will be extended to operate 24 hours from Saturday 1 October. Dan Spencer, FESS coordinator at the Red Cross is looking to recruit more volunteers to ensure that the service runs smoothly.

Dan said: “We rely on our volunteers to respond to emergencies at a moment's notice, which takes some dedication. We’d like to extend the base of volunteers that we can call upon so we can offer a really robust service. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led organisation and without our volunteers we would never be able to give people the help they need in a crisis.

“We are looking for compassionate, enthusiastic, reliable volunteers to join our team and propel the service forward. Volunteers need to live within 30 minutes of Keynsham, where the FESS vehicle is located. No experience is necessary as full training is given. Our volunteers make a real difference to people who may have lost everything at the moment they are needed the most.”

FESS runs in more than 40 counties across the UK, including Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset. Using a customised vehicle complete with a shower, cooker, kettle and supplies, volunteers provide those affected by fire or flood with immediate temporary shelter. They are also able to provide first aid, clothes, food, toiletries and help find temporary accommodation and signpost people to other support organisations that can help.

For more information about the Red Cross please visit:


Notes to editors

Pictures available on request.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @BRC_WandW

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