Michelle Vieira

New partnership to keep older people safe

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Safety education centre SkillZONE has formed a new partnership with Gloucestershire Telecare to work together in helping older people stay safe and independent at home.

SkillZONE runs two hour safety tours to schools and community groups in its state-of-the-art building. Currently over 70 percent of the visitors to SkillZONE are school trips but through working with Telecare the partners hope to reach more older people with their important safety messages.

Gloucestershire Telecare has now fitted SkillZONE’s house with a range of specialist equipment it uses to support people to live independently and at home for longer. SkillZONE volunteers will be able to showcase this assistive technology to groups visiting the centre.

Using special sensors Telecare helps manage risks such as medication management or falls and also detects potential emergencies at home such as fires, gas leaks and floods. This equipment is linked to a 24 hour monitoring centre with trained operators.

Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for older people, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for partners to work together for the benefit of our older community and their families. Educating young people through the centre will also raise awareness of Telecare as we hope that they will be able to pass on this invaluable information to others.”

Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire and safety, said: “SkillZONE already teach about fire safety and personal safety in the home and we are pleased to add the Telecare equipment to our house so we can raise the profile of this excellent service for those who need it.”

Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service already works with Telecare to identify people who may need specialist equipment to stay safe in their homes. Together they identify, provide and fit the equipment ensuring a joined up approach to home safety.

 

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SkillZONE celebrates two years of safety advice success

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Gloucester education centre SkillZONE celebrated championing its safety lessons to almost 15,000 visitors when it turned two years old on February 1st.

The newest safety centre in the country has a fun interactive village where groups experience realistic dangerous scenarios in a number of different locations during a two hour tour.

Since opening its doors SkillZONE has given safety tours to thousands of young people and welcomed more than 375 schools from across the county.

The number of visitors is on the up as well with the centre hosting 2,000 more visitors this year than last year.

It has also run a range of training courses for the local community including advanced motorcycle training, cycle training, first aid, speed awareness, cyber safety and school crossing patrols.

As well as training it has also been used to host a wide variety of events such as the Anti Drink Drive campaign launch, Older Peoples Month and earlier this week a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony.

SkillZONE has seen an increase in primary school trips in its second year due to Gloucestershire County Council funding free safety tours for Year 5 pupils.

From this funding 2,623 pupils from 144 primary schools have benefited from lessons on road, home and fire safety along with a range of other scenarios such as how to stay safe at the beach or when using a bus.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “I’m delighted that our county’s only safety centre has gone from strength to strength in the past two years. I encourage more schools and community groups to visit this excellent facility and learn about the life saving lessons that it can offer.”

SkillZONE manager Donna Potts said: “I believe we have made a significant difference to the safety of young people and their families since opening. It is always rewarding to hear how the visitors learn from volunteers during a tour.

“I’m proud that we are using volunteers from the local community to keep the people of Gloucestershire safe.”

In a survey of 120 Year 5 primary teachers in Gloucestershire, 82% said their pupils would be safer ‘to a great extent’ following their visit, 95% per cent said they were ‘very satisfied’ with their experience and 91% said they would ‘definitely’ visit again.

 

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Fire service marks Holocaust Memorial Day

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Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service will be hosting a Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) event on January 27th 2015 which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The commemorative ceremony will be held from 10:30am – 12:30am at its safety education centre, SkillZONE in Gloucester on Tuffley Avenue, GL4 0AS.

SkillZONE will be passing a ceramic HMD baton to St Peter’s RC High School which was designed by students from the National Star College. It was created to provide a tangible reminder of the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day.

It is passed to like-minded organisations in Gloucester each year so they can mark the national day.  Together they will reflect on the appalling past events and commit to working together towards a safer and better future.

SkillZONE Manager Donna Potts says; “It is important to us to honour the memory of millions of people murdered in the Holocaust along with the other genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

“We are pleased to pass on the baton to St Peter’s RC High School and to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day locally.”

In remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides that have taken place throughout the world, there will be a reading of the Jewish prayer the “Kaddish” followed by a minutes’ silence. St Peter’s High School will also do a performance on the national theme of ‘keeping the memory alive.’

 

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Volunteer to be a safety hero

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SkillZONE is calling for more volunteers to join its centre this New Year to help make a difference to the lives of young people by teaching them to stay safe.

Run through Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Gloucestershire County Council, SkillZONE is a state- of- the- art building in Gloucester with a life-size street scene inside.

School groups, clubs and the wider community identify danger in nine different situations such as hazards in the home, cyber bullying, crossing a road and how to evacuate from a fire.

SkillZONE’s Volunteer Manager, Will Knight, says; “Most people make New Year’s resolutions to do something positive and we really hope this year they will consider helping to keep their local community safe at our unique centre.”

“Our tours empower young people to make safe decisions for themselves in everyday life such as what to do if they burn themselves or how to react if someone tries to steal their wallet or phone.”

Retired Gloucester firefighter Stu Slatter says of volunteering; “I enjoy talking to people and it funneled some of the skills I already had when I retired.

“It is a real sense of achievement getting the thank-you from the kids and seeing how much they enjoyed it. They come in quite innocent and I think they leave knowing about danger and they will look out for others as well.”

Volunteer Jo Elliot of Stroud adds; “It is such an exciting environment even though the message is serious and getting these good safety messages to children is a really positive thing.

“The team has been really supportive and I like that the dates you volunteer are so flexible.”

Volunteer guides are needed to lead groups on a 2 hour tour around the village scenarios and to encourage children to identify various dangers from a dark alleyway to a building site.

Candidates come from all walks of life and are only required to give a minimum of two days per month. In return volunteers will receive training such as in First Aid and Equality and Diversity, and become a valued member of the SkillZONE team.

To find out more about SkillZONE or volunteering, visit skillzonetest.co.uk/volunteer email volunteer@glosfire.gov.uk or phone 01452 834 150.

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Don’t let a fire ruin your Christmas

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From Christmas dinner to wrapping presents there’s a lot to remember at Christmas so Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding residents not to forget fire safety.

Fire Kills statistics show that in December, 20 people a day are either killed or injured in accidental fires in the home in England. Last December, there were around 2,700 accidental fires in the home in England – more than any other month of the year.

While fire safety is important throughout the year, the extra distractions and activity around Christmas such as cooking more, drinking more and using extra heating is reason to be vigilant during the festive season.

Chimney fires are also prevalent at this time of year and GFRS firefighters attended 17 chimney fires in November, with the majority in Stroud and the Cotswolds.

Worryingly, seven of those chimney fires were in homes without a working smoke alarm.

GFRS Chief Fire Officer, Stewart Edgar said: “As wonderful as Christmas is, we know it also brings extra fire risk because of the use of candles, fairy lights on Christmas trees and decorations. So please take extra care to keep loved ones safe from fire. From everyone at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.”

Here are some tips to help you and your family enjoy Christmas safely:

• Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home and test them weekly.
• Never leave cooking unattended.
• Never leave burning candles unattended.
• Put your cigarette out, right out.
• Don’t overload sockets.
• Ensure you switch off fairy lights when you go to bed.
• Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – that you should get out, stay out and call 999.

 

For more information on the Fire Kills campaign you can visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/firekills and watch the short Fire Kills Christmas Tree video at http://youtu.be/hMtjGfr0tYs

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Gloucester pupils get street-smart for Road Safety Week

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Pupils from Churcham Primary School and Ashleworth Church of England Primary School in Gloucester received enhanced and hands-on road safety lessons in SkillZONE’s unique street setting today as part of Road Safety Week (17-23 November).

Andre Bovington from the Road Safety Partnership says; “We are always keen to highlight road safety, especially as it’s darker at this time of year and pupils need to be aware that drivers can’t always see you in poor light. We are also asking pupils to ‘look out for each other’ on their school journey, which is about respecting all road users as well as taking the time to really look for others for safety reasons.”

Children visiting the Gloucester safety centre during the national week were taught a host of road safety tips from SkillZONE’s partner Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership around the national theme of ‘looking out for each other’. These include:

• Take the time to look out for cars, cyclists, pedestrians and children on scooters on their journey to school.
• To always ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ for traffic before crossing the road safely with parents or guardians.
• To be extra careful at this time of year because drivers have less chance of seeing you in darker mornings and evenings.
• To always cross where you can be seen and wherever possible use controlled crossings and to wear something bright when walking near roads in the dark.
• Not to be distracted by mobile phones, chatting to friends or listening to music near roads, particularly when you are about to cross a road.

SkillZONE manager, Donna Potts said of the visit; “We are happy to celebrate Road Safety Week each year with our local schools and I’m pleased we’ve been able to deliver these important road safety messages with young people in a way that they will remember.”

It was the second time Churcham Primary had been to the safety centre with teacher Claire Gobourne saying; “ I think it’s a fantastic learning opportunity to come to SkillZONE. We do cover road safety in school but this really brings those lessons to life.”

Her pupil Amy McKay, 10, adds; “I’m so excited about coming here today. I have learnt a lot about road safety and one of the things it reminded me was to wear my seatbelt at all times, even if just going around the corner.”

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Photo: Pupils from Churcham Primary celebrate Road Safety Week from left to right Maddie Skatulla-Emberson, 10, Emily Brit, 10, and Logan Smith, 9.

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Remember, remember to stay safe this 5th of November

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People in the county are being reminded by the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service on how to stay safe this bonfire weekend.

Celebrating bonfire night is always a great way to spend an evening. However there are some risks, especially if using fireworks and building bonfires at home.

Below is some helpful advice on how to stay safe at home this Guy Fawkes night.

Fireworks tips:
• When using fireworks at home, keep them in a closed metal box before use and take them out one at a time
• It may be a timely task, but always read the manufacturer’s instructions on each firework and read them by torchlight, not a naked flame
• If you’re lighting fireworks, do so at arm’s length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick
• All smokers should avoid lighting up near fireworks
• Once you’ve lit your firework, stand back and don’t go back until its finished
• Just to be extra safe, keep a bucket of water handy
• It’s no secret that your pets don’t enjoy the bangs of fireworks; try to keep them inside in the warm
• Once the night has finished and it’s time to clear up, collect the used fireworks with care and douse with water before popping them in a metal container

Bonfire advice:
• If you’re building a bonfire at home, be sure that it’s well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs – and always away from fireworks
• Before lighting the bonfire, carry out a quick head count and make sure you know where all pets and children are
• Building the bonfire is half the fun, but be sure it’s stable
• When lighting your bonfire, never use flammable liquids like paraffin or petrol
• Be sure that you don’t have any foam-filled furniture, aerosols, and tins of paint or bottles on the bonfire
• Just like with fireworks, keep a bucket of water, the garden hose or a fire extinguisher close by
• Before the evening comes to a close, pour water on the embers and be sure it’s safely out

All the above risks can be made worse by the use of illegal fireworks. The fire service strongly urges people to check and double check that what they’ve bought is legitimate.

Every year, tonnes of illegal fireworks are seized nationally with a value in excess of £100,000. Illegal fireworks are capable of causing serious injury so consumers can never be too safe.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire safety, said: “If you’re looking for an easy bonfire night celebration, it is safer to attend an organised event. It’s probably going to be cheaper and more impressive as well. Whatever you decide, be sure to have fun and stay safe.”

John Beard, head of prevention and protection for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “If people are putting on their own firework display for friends and family, we’d ask them to make sure they follow the above safety advice and enjoy a responsible and fun evening.

“There is also a real danger around the use of illegal fireworks and it’s important that people realise the huge risks that surround them. It’s much safer, and easier, to visit a local display and let the professionals manage the risks.”

 

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Whether you trick or treat, stay safe this Halloween

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Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and its educational centre, SkillZONE, is reminding parents to keep their families safe this Halloween.

They are particularly alerting people to the safety risks that come with lighting candles for Halloween pumpkins.  Tips include using a candle holder and to keep them away from anything that could catch fire, like Halloween decorations, curtains and costumes.

Area Manager John Beard, Head of Prevention & Protection for Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service said: “Halloween has grown year on year and understandably, there is a lot of excitement around it. We don’t want to stop children enjoying themselves, but we would ask that parents take extra care to make sure Halloween is safe as well as fun.”

SkillZONE Manager Donna Potts adds: “We teach fire safety to every young person who visits our centre along with using candles safely – especially tea-lights.”

“Battery operated candles are the safest way to go at Halloween but if you are going to have a naked flame make sure to place lit pumpkins away from anything that can burn.”

Here are a few simple measures to protect children as they trick, treat and enjoy their spooky celebrations:

  • Be aware flowing items such as fake hair and capes can become hazardous if they are worn near naked flames such as candles.
  • Ensure that you use only fire retardant costumes for dressing up and that children can see out of masks.
  • Remember that Halloween costumes like plastic capes can pose a fire risk.
  • Keep children and pets away from garden candles and lanterns or any open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Always keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
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