16 August 2012
Cornwall is to get its own dedicated team of emergency support volunteers at the end of the year when the British Red Cross launches its Fire and Emergency Support Service
The service, which is run by trained volunteers, helps people cope after they have had a fire, flood or any emergency by providing practical help, advice and comfort. Cornwall’s FESS service will be based at Falmouth Community Fire Station, in Trescobeas Road, Falmouth.
The Red Cross is now calling for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer
to get in touch and find out more.
Rich Williams, Red Cross FESS coordinator, said: “The Red Cross is really excited about bringing this service to Cornwall, as it gives us an opportunity to help more vulnerable people in need of support.
“Volunteering is a hugely rewarding experience and I would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch to find out more.”
Thousands of people across the UK are helped by FESS every year and the support volunteers give helps people plan how to recover from their situation. Volunteers are paged to the scene by the emergency services and arrive in their specially adapted FESS vehicle.
This is equipped with items people may need in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, including clothing, hygiene items, baby food, toys for children and even treats for pets. The £40,000 vehicle was paid for by the generous donations of people throughout Cornwall, who have spent the past year organising fundraising events from tea parties to comedy nights.
It may be many months before a family can re-occupy their home so the service helps people think about how to deal with the days ahead. Experience has shown the faster people are given guidance the shorter the road to recovery.
As well as providing immediate support, the Red Cross can help signpost people to other services including;
> free insurance advice
> temporary accommodation, including pet accommodation providers
> advice on claims management/business interruption
> longer-term emotional support and guidance
> access to other Red Cross services
Rich Williams added: “Few people realise how much damage even a small fire can create. Smoke penetrates everywhere. All carpets, soft furniture and clothing will be affected and invariably have to be replaced.
“Losing your home is a devastating experience and when people are under stress they can react in a range of ways. Often they are very upset. Sometimes they need someone or something to blame. Our volunteers are able to support people in these situations with sensitivity.”
The service will be operating initially at weekends from 6pm on Fridays to 6am on a Monday and cover all parts of Cornwall. Volunteers must live within 25 minutes of Falmouth Community Fire Station and will be given full training. A flexible monthly rota means you can volunteer for as many or as few shifts as you want.
If you would like to find out more about the FESS service, or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Rich Williams on 07850 737999 or email Richardwilliams@redcross.org.uk.