SkillZONE to offer free safety lessons to Year 5 pupils

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Primary schools in Gloucestershire are being invited to bring their Year 5 pupils for a free visit to the county’s only safety centre SkillZONE.

Between September this year and March 2016 SkillZONE will be offering all primary, junior and special school pupils in Year 5 the chance to visit the centre and learn more about road, home and fire safety and much more.

Skillzone, which opened three years ago, has an indoor village that gives groups the chance to experience a range of realistic scenarios in a bid to help young people and their families to stay safe.

Thousands of young people have already been to SkillZONE and evidence shows that they remember vitally important safety information that could help reduce accidents for years to come.

SkillZONE will be contacting primary schools during September inviting them to book a free trip for Year 5 students through its online booking system.

The work is linked to Gloucestershire’s new PINK Curriculum and supports the PSHE work taking place in schools.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure said, “I am delighted that the county council has been able to support these valuable life skill lessons for every Year 5 child in Gloucestershire. These children will take away essential life skills which they can share with their families too.”

All school groups will be taught about road safety, fire safety and hazards in the home and teachers will be able to choose a further six scenarios covering areas such as water safety, online activity, criminal justice, personal safety or eating healthily.

To find out more information about SkillZONE visit

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Roll Up Roll Up to help our Forces family

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 Staff at safety education centre, SkillZONE will ‘pop the kettle on’ to host a SSAFA’s Big Brew Up on Friday October 10th from 9am -11:30am to help raise money to support the armed forces.

The Big Brew Up is SSAFA’s biggest annual fundraiser and is taking place from October 6th -12th up and down the country and around the world wherever British Forces are based.

Local people are invited to get together with family, friends and colleagues for a cup of tea and a slice of cake at SkillZONE, Tuffley Lane, Gloucester, GL4 0AS.

The SkillZONE team will be rolling out the bunting and putting their baking skills to the test  to offer colleagues at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS), the Police and the Ambulance service a tea drinker’s dream Big Brew Up.

SkillZONE Manager Donna Potts says, ‘Taking part in the Big Brew Up is a great opportunity to raise money for the incredible work that SSAFA do and it also fits with the centenary of the Great War. Having worked for the Royal Air Force I know first-hand what an amazing job they do and I invite others to join me on Friday to support this cause.”

“Many GFRS staff are former military personnel and it’s heartwarming to know we are joining thousands of others across the world from Afghanistan to Canada to raise a mug to our servicemen and women.”

Verity Maylam, SSAFA’s Big Brew Up coordinator, adds, ‘The Big Brew Up is our biggest, easiest and most exciting fundraising event of the year. The money raised will help to support more than 50,000 people each year, that’s 136 every single day. SSAFA supports serving personnel, veterans and their families. Every penny raised from the Big Brew Up will go towards SSAFA’s life changing work.’

If you would like to attend the event, phone 01452 834150 or email to let us know and we suggest a donation of £1-£2 towards the SSAFA fundraiser.




Editor’s Notes


SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families. Each year, our staff and network of 7,500 volunteers are there for more that 50,000 people, ranging from D-Day veterans to the families of young soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

For more information visit


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SkillZONE supports Ageing Safely Week

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Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) is urging residents to keep an eye on the older members of their community as part of Ageing Safely Week.

The Chief Fire Officers Association Ageing Safely Week runs from Monday 29th September to Sunday 5th October and will see fire and rescue services across the country engaging with older people through a range of activities and showcasing the work they do with older people on a daily basis.


GFRS Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar said: “We should treasure the older people in our community. Whether that’s our grandparents, parents, a friend or a neighbour, we can all do our bit to look out for their wellbeing.


“Small acts of kindness like checking their smoke alarms are working if they struggle to do it themselves, may save their life.


“Our firefighters are committed to helping older people, particularly those who are most vulnerable or at risk and we provide free home safety checks to anyone who needs it.”


GFRS will be supporting Gloucestershire County Council’s Full of Life campaign launch on Wednesday 1st October at SkillZONE in Gloucester, which is also the International Day of Older Persons.


The service will also attend the subsequent pop-up shops around the county throughout October to provide fire safety advice.


Full of Life Gloucestershire is a celebration of older people with groups from community hubs around the county attending a morning of fun activities.


Tours will be given of the safety centre and Gloucester South Fire Station, while the fire service’s community safety team will be on hand to provide smoke alarms and fire safety tips.


They will also be bringing in specialist equipment such as flame retardant bedding to showcase alongside Telecare which provides assistive technology that helps older people to live safely and independently in the home.


Statistics show that the risk of dying in a fire for those aged 65 and over is more than twice as high as the average risk for all ages. In Gloucestershire around 5,000 households in the 65 plus age group have been identified as vulnerable.


GFRS identifies those who are most at risk in the county and undertakes targeted prevention and protection activities to help them stay safe.


If you know someone that may be vulnerable or at risk of a fire you can call 0800 180 4140 or email to arrange a free home safety check.





Facts about Ageing Safely Week:

  • With an ever-increasing older population – 23% of the UK will be aged 65 and over by 2035.

  • UK fire services carried out 274,000 home fire safety checks in households with a person over 65 years in 2012-13.

  • Age related fire death factors include: poor mobility, poor sense of smell and reduced tolerance of smoke and burns.





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Celebrating 1 year of keeping Gloucestershire safe

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As Gloucestershire’s only safety education centre celebrates its first official birthday on February 1st 2014 figures show around 100 children a week have visited SkillZONE during the school year.

SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art village which gives people of all ages the chance to experience 16 real life scenarios, each designed to teach them how to recognise a range of dangerous situations such as on the road, in water, at home or online.

Based in Gloucester, the centre’s main visitor is schools with one in three primary schools in the county benefiting from a trip to SkillZONE since it opened.  Another 15,000 local people have attended SkillZONE events or used the building facilities.

To mark its first birthday balloons and cake will be given to Oakridge Primary School and Bisley Blue Coat Primary School on Thursday January 30th after their SkillZONE tour.

Maria Boon, Head of Prevention at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said; “We are delighted to reach this milestone and to be providing access to safety education to Gloucestershire.”

“Young people’s safety is at the heart of what we do and although there are more schools and community groups we would like to reach, I believe we are on the right track. If you haven’t been to SkillZONE, please put a date in your diary to come along to our open day on Saturday July 19th2014.”

A visit to SkillZONE with Crudwell Cub Scouts was particularly meaningful for Adam Hanwell, 11, who had recently experienced a house fire. His father Tom Hanwell says; “We came home to six foot flames coming out of the chimney and all the emergency services were there. It was completely alien to my son and he couldn’t understand it.”

“At the end of SkillZONE he knew and respected what the fire fighters and emergency services do. It taught him what to do in an emergency and he wouldn’t be afraid to call for help now. Our scouts valued the trip so much we will come again. “

The centre has also been used for a wide range of community events including Older People’s Month, Gangculture Day, Black History Month, a Women in Islam event, Child Accident Prevention Week and safety courses for young mums.

SkillZONE’s partner, Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, regularly enjoys using the venue to train drivers. It trains over 12,000 drivers each year and many come through the SkillZONE. Courses run at the centre include seminars for lollipop ladies and men, advance motorcycle riding courses, cyclist training, drivers caught using mobile phones, speed awareness courses and hosting special events such as the launch of its annual Anti Drink Drive Campaign or Road Safety Week. 

Used by all walks of life from clubs like Brownies to the Bangladeshi community, the 2 hours tours on safety in SkillZONE’s village are run by volunteers and Stroud Wardens.

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Safety messages reach rural schools

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From rural road safety lessons to the importance of closing gates in the countryside, children from some of the county’s more remote schools are being given a safety lesson with a difference.

SkillZONE safety education centre has invited a number of rural schools to attend tours that teach lessons specific to their communities.

The week of special tours from 15th to 22nd January will cover topics such as preparing for bad weather conditions on country roads and considering what to do if a bus is cancelled or road is closed. The home and fire safety scenarios will also cover tips and advice for rural communities.
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “We want to ensure that no school is excluded from learning the important safety lessons that SkillZONE has to offer. It’s great that the centre gives us the opportunity to cover a range of situations and educate children from all walks of life.”

Withington Primary School teacher, Sonia Beames, said: “We didn’t know what to expect when we came and we were really impressed. Because we are from a village I picked relevant scenarios for our safety. I thought learning about first aid was really helpful as some of the children are far away from an ambulance and the fire safety lesson was good too.”

Pupil William Saunders, 11, added: “It was really exciting, I have learnt quite a lot out of it. I liked the cell the best and I know when to replace batteries in the smoke alarm.”

Twelve schools from the Forest of Dean and Stroud, along with the outer areas of Cheltenham and Gloucester, are taking part in the week.

Photo: Pupils of Withington Primary School, Cheltenham, take up the opportunity to visit SkillZONE for the first time from left to right: Abbey Finch 10, Megan Hood 10, Penda Mungendje 10, William Saunders 11, Elliot Carter 10.

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School Governors Coffee Morning

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SkillZONE is running a School Governors Coffee Morning on Thursday December 19th from 10am -12pm at its Tuffley centre.

It is a chance for governors to learn about Gloucestershire’s only safety education centre and experience the facility first hand.

The FREE event will include a welcome, a tour of the life size village and an opportunity to chat with other governors over a coffee or tea and Christmas mince pie.

SkillZONE is a fully interactive learning environment which teaches school groups and the wider community how to recognise a range of dangerous situations and stay safe.

There are 16 zones in SkillZONE, which cover a range of scenarios including road, rail and water safety, an internet cafe, as well as home and personal safety.  

Places are limited so please email to book.

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Dramatic campaign launch as deaths increase

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The Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership is launching its 2013 anti drink driving campaign today at SkillZONE as the national number of drink drive deaths increases following decades of steady decline.

The Partnership figures reveal that during December and based on last year’s data, 23 families across the UK will lose a loved one in a sudden, violent and preventable tragedy.

In Gloucestershire last year, 2 collisions every single week involved somebody who took the risk of drinking and driving and from these, 31 people received fatal or serious injuries. Based on these figures, the Partnership is more determined than ever to drive home the anti drink drive message.

This year’s campaign, Eat, Think, Be Merry will combine police enforcement with a broad scale innovative media campaign across the county.

The launch of the campaign will focus on the devastating impact of a serious road collision. The streetscape at Skillzone, the county’s education centre, will be setup to simulate the scene of a crash to illustrate the most serious consequence of combining drinking with driving.

However the personal and social consequences of a drink drive conviction run far deeper than most people think. These can range from imprisonment, to large fines, a loss of a driving license for a minimum of 12 months and a criminal record. The Partnership will be joined by a recently convicted motorist who is willing to share the true affects of a drink drive prosecution.

You can find out more information on the campaign here.

Here is a short video featuring Garry Handley from The Citizens article covering the Drink Drive Campaign Launch 2013.

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‘Tune into Road Safety’ messages highlighted

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Visiting pupils from Cheltenham’s St James Primary School were today given valuable and practical road safety lessons as part of their SkillZONE tour to coincide with Road Safety Week.

SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art safety education centre where students can learn how to recognise dangerous situations in everyday life and how to stay safe.

During their visit the 90 pupils from Year 5 and Year 6 learned about the ‘Tune in to Road Safety’ theme for 2013 – that while it is human to daydream and get sidetracked, on the road distractions can be fatal.

Groups were taught about catching a bus or travelling in a car safely and to think about common distractions, such as listening to music or using a phone while walking and riding a bike. They also got to experience walking in near darkness and discovered how long it takes a car to stop after breaking suddenly.

Lottie Hutton, 10, from St James Primary School says “It was scary and unexpected finding out where the car went to after it brakes. I didn’t realise it would go so far.”

Andre Bovington from the Road Safety Partnership says; “Our main focus at this time of year is about walking in dim light on your way to school and to be aware of distractions. So our message to St James Primary pupils is to stay on the footpath and use safe crossings but to remember that drivers can’t always see you in poor light. If you’ve got an mp3 player or mobile phone, do not use them before crossing the road as they can be distracting.”

Road safety was only one of nine real life scenarios the Cheltenham school covered in its tour of SkillZONE’s life size village. They also got to experience danger in other situations such as in a: house, train, farm and internet cafe.

SkillZONE manager, Donna Potts says; “We are delighted that we can celebrate Road Safety Week together with the Road Safety Partnership in a realistic way that we know young people will remember. This is just one of the many ways we work with our partners to make the people of Gloucestershire safer.”

St James Primary School teacher Sarah Wakefield adds; “I thought the whole experience was really good, giving them the opportunity to do all these real situations and think for themselves.

“The videos were really powerful and a lot of every day hazards came out from the children that they had never questioned before.”

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Primary schools urged to visit SkillZONE

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SkillZONE, Gloucestershire’s state-of-the-art education centre, has published a new brochure which aims to encourage all primary schools in the county to visit.

The facility, which opened just over a year ago, teaches children, young people and the greater community to recognise dangerous situations in everyday life so they can stay safe.

SkillZONE is particularly popular with the Year 5 and Year 6 primary school groups and the interactive scenarios used in its life sized village have been designed to compliment PSHE delivery.

Gloucestershire’s Chief Fire Officer, Jon Hall says; “If you haven’t been before, it really is a fantastic and engaging learning environment which teaches valuable life skills.”

“We have had a brilliant response from schools who have visited so far (thank-you) but unfortunately there are others in the county who haven’t been or may not have heard of us. We want to spread the word about what a wonderful resource SkillZONE is to get all schools in Gloucestershire utilising it.”

Queen Margaret Primary School Teacher of Year 6, Daina Kelly, says; “It is a definite must to come again as I think all children would benefit from a visit.”

“The resources are so realistic that the children can realise themselves the situations and it is hard hitting enough for them to remember the lessons.”

The new brochure offers a snapshot of the important safety lessons offered at SkillZONE and the various scenarios including a house, shop, police cell, bus, train and internet cafe.

If you are interested in receiving a brochure please email To book SkillZONE or find out more visit or phone 01452 834150.

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