All posts tagged: community

Whether you trick or treat, stay safe this Halloween

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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Rural Schools Week

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SkillZONE is running a special week for rural schools from January 15th to January 22nd 2014 in a bid to extend the reach of its safety lessons to schools which are further afield.

The week has been organised at the Gloucester safety education centre to teach specific messages to rural communities about staying safe and to give these schools the chance to experience SkillZONE.

SkillZONE’s whole ethos is to teach children and young people to stay safe by letting young people experience danger in realistic situations from a dark alleyway to an internet cafe or travelling to school.

 SkillZONE Manager, Donna Potts, says; “Rural schools are by nature more isolated. We believe gaining the experience of learning from our scenarios is particularly important because rural residents can sometimes feel more vulnerable in an emergency and these sessions may give them more confidence.”

“We recognise that many schools on the outer reaches of the county have not been to SkillZONE and we wanted to invite them to see what we have to offer.”  

The bespoke tour will cover road safety lessons for rural residents such as being seen while walking or cycling, preparing for bad weather conditions, considering what to do if a bus is cancelled or road is closed and the importance of closing gates on farms.

The home and fire safety scenarios will also cover tips and advice for rural communities. The schools visiting have then chosen five other areas in the village from the internet cafe, water safety, internet cafe, shop, farm, builders’ yard, train platform, police station and court room.

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





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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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Launch of Year 7 ‘safer choices’ tour

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SkillZONE has developed a new tour designed to teach Year 7 pupils to make safer choices on their school journey and in everyday life which will be launched on Monday, November 18th to coincide with national Road Safety Week.

SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art safety education centre where students make decisions about staying safe. The centre allows classes to experience a range of real scenarios in its life size village such as in a; car, bus, house, shop, alleyway and internet cafe.

The package is aimed at Year 7 pupils as for many this year marks the beginning of their solo journeys to school, whether that is catching a bus, cycling or walking. Its other objective is to enhance students knowledge of Year 7 citizenship curriculum topics such as understanding how laws are made and money is managed.

Part of the 2 hour tour will cover the ‘Tune in to Road Safety’ national theme for 2013 so that groups will learn that while daydreaming and get sidetracked is human nature, on the road distractions can be fatal. As part of this pupils will be taught about catching a bus or travelling in a car safely and will be asked to think about common distractions, such as listening to music or using a phone while on their school journey.

The topics included from the Year 7 citizenship programme include;

  • developing an understanding of the role of the law and justice system – using SkillZONE’s own Police Station and Court Room
  • learning about managing money on a day to day basis with practical experience in SkillZONE’s shop and;
  •  discussions about the roles played by public institutions and voluntary groups in society.

Any teaching staff of Year 7 pupils, whether curriculum Leads, PSHE coordinators or teachers, are invited to a free prepratory tour of SkillZONE during Road Safety Week (November 18th – 21st) on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday morning.

The 2 hour tour costs £5 per pupils if coming with a school group and a total of nine scenarios will be on offer. To book or find out more information visit  or phone 01452 834 150.

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A spooktastic time at SkillZONE Halloween event

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Witches, devils, spiders and baby pumpkins were just some of the costumed youngsters who turned up for SkillZONE’s Halloween Open Days on October 30th and 31st.

SkillZONE, which opened just over a year ago, is an educational centre that teaches children, young people and the greater community to recognise dangerous situations in everyday life so they can stay safe.

Around 120 people came to the Halloween open days on Wednesday and Thursday and took part in short tours of the centre’s life size village.

Local families were able to learn more about fire safety at Halloween with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue crews running fire truck demonstrations over the two day event.

SkillZONE Manager Donna Potts says: “It’s our first time running a Halloween event and we’ve been pleased with the feedback we had from visitors. The kids Halloween outfits have been wonderful and it’s been lovely to see them enjoying SkillZONE and taking in the important safety messages we teach on our tours.”

Children had the chance to play Halloween games, get their face painted, watch fire truck demonstrations and listen to spooky stories.

Oliver Bond, 5, of Quedgeley, (pictured left) won a prize for his skeleton pirate outfit.  He says: “I was happy to win. I liked putting my hand in the spaghetti game the best and the scary story.”

Local volunteers helped run the open days for SkillZONE and local businesses; Fosterplus, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons and the Over Farm Market donated treats, pumpkins and prizes.

“A special thanks also to young Jack and Chloe Hughes who helped with putting up the Halloween decorations.”


Pictures : Main image shows Halloween kids, from left: Sophie Lewis, 9, Jack Gardner, 6, Sophie Orton, 7, Kate Gardner, 9, and Spencer Lewis, 6. On right is Kate Gardner, 9, with her prize winning pumpkin.




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Half term Halloween at SkillZONE

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SkillZONE will open up to children in the school holidays. Children can have a go at spooky face painting, scary pumpkins and arts and crafts, as well as watching fire truck demos.

Local families will be able to learn more about fire safety at Halloween with fire and rescue crews running fire truck demonstrations over the two day event.

The event is running on Wednesday 30th October from 10am to 4pm and again on Thursday 31st October from 10am to 4pm.

The price for entry is £3.50 and children under 2 years old are just £2.

SkillZONE is a state-of-the-art village which gives people of all ages the chance to visit 16 zones, each designed to teach them how to recognise a range of dangerous situations, including on the road, in the water and at home.

Places on the SkillZONE tour are limited so please call 01452 834159 now to book.

Children are encouraged to come in fancy dress, but there will be a chance to become a spooky ghost or ghoul at the face painting stand. There will also be a cake sale and some arts and crafts stalls.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for communities, said: “This is a great chance to learn more about fire safety and to have some fun at the same time. Come along in fancy dress because the best costume wins a treat, and don’t forget to bring your scariest pumpkin with you for a chance to win a prize.”

Gloucester South Fire Station and SkillZONE are based at Tuffley Lane, Gloucester, GL4 0AS.

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Minister launches Older People’s Month

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National Older People’s Day was on 1st October and Gloucestershire County Council was delighted to welcome the Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb, to launch it’s month long campaign with partners and community groups and organisations at SkillZONE.

The launch offered information stands and demonstrations that will cover topics including planning for the future, staying safe and well at home, safer driving with age, housing support and NHS health checks. Free tours of the SkillZONE village were also offered.

Cllr Andrew Gravells, cabinet member for older people, said: “We’re delighted that Steve Webb was able to join us for the launch of Older People’s month. It’s a great opportunity for him to see firsthand just some of the many excellent services available for people in Gloucestershire to help them stay fit, healthy and safe and to give them the best opportunities when they’re older.”

To coincide with the national campaign, the council has decided to extend Older People’s Day to Older People’s Month and throughout October a series of roadshows will be taking place across the county. In Gloucestershire it’s no secret that we have an ageing population as people are living longer. For that reason, Gloucestershire County Council is keen to help people make the most of their golden years by staying fit, healthy and active and planning properly for later life.

At the same time, the council’s new Independent Living Guide was launched. It features helpful advice and information about local services for older people to help them to live safely and securely in their own homes for as long as they’re able to.

There will also be a display in the council’s mobile library which will be going around more rural areas of the county throughout October.

To make sure we reach people who cannot attend the events, all of the information can be found at

You can also call 01452 426868 for advice on any of the events or services being publicised.


Events will take place at:

Date Location Time
Tuesday 1st October SkillZONE, Tuffley Lane, Tuffley, Gloucester
This event will include a tour
3pm to 6pm
Thursday 3rd October Coleford Main Place, Old Station Way, Coleford 10am to 2pm
Saturday 5th October Cheltenham North Fire Station, Uckington 10am to 2pm
Thursday 10th October Newent Memorial Hall, Bury Bar Lane, Newent 12pm to 4pm
Saturday 12th October Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester 2pm to 4pm
Tuesday 15th October Stroud Subscription Rooms, Kendrick Street, Stroud 10am to 2pm
Wednesday 16th October Cheltenham Fire Station, Keynsham Road, Cheltenham 10am to 2pm
Friday 18th October Mulberry Court, Kingsmeadow, Cirencester 10am to 2pm
Monday 21st October Badger Vale Court. Woodpecker Road, Podsmead 10am to 2pm
Saturday 26th October Marina Court, Bredon Road, Tewkesbury 10am to 2pm
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Families tested for Child Safety Week

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From learning about the perils of poisons in the home to staying safe on the county’s roads, families in Gloucestershire will take part in a series of events at SkillZONE to mark National Child Safety Week from 24th to 30th June.

Staff at the state-of-the-art safety education centre are inviting safety ambassadors from Oakwood Primary, Rowanfield Junior, Hester’s Way Primary and Gardner’s Lane Primary schools to take part in a special passport challenge, giving them vital road safety advice whether travelling by bus, on foot, on a bike or by car.

Parents will also be invited to taste test Bitrex – a bitter substance added to many household products to stop children accidentally swallowing them.

The ordeal is intended to help families understand the dangers of poisons in the home as those who drink Bitrex will want to spit the product out rather than swallow it.

And even though the flavour will quickly be replaced by a piece of chocolate, the memory of the taste will last a long time – as will the message about preventing their child from being poisoned.

SkillZONE visitors will also be learning about the dangers of scalds and burns and how to respond in an emergency.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for community safety, said: “We always think our children are safe at home, but many childhood accidents happen there. Child Safety Week is a great reminder of the simple steps everyone can take to keep young people safe.”

Donna Potts, SkillZONE manager at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We’re worried about serious accidents to children in Gloucestershire. During SkillZONE’s safety week we will be encouraging everyone to be a safety hero and find out about simple things they can do that will make a real difference to preventing accidents. Child Safety Week gives us a great opportunity to talk to families about accident prevention, have some fun and get some serious messages across.”

Katrina Phillips, chief executive at the Child Accident Prevention Trust, the national charity that runs Child Safety Week, said: “Our message for Child Safety Week is that you don’t need to be superhuman to be a safety hero. Putting your coffee cup out of reach of small hands, keeping painkillers and cleaning things stored safely away, practising road safety with your children while you’re out walking – these small things all add up to children who are protected from serious harm. 

“With the help of SkillZONE and Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, families can learn how to transform themselves into safety heroes. And there are more tips on how to be a safety hero on the Child Safety Week website new window.”

The Road Safety Partnership is working closely with Gloucestershire’s firefighters to ensure they are trained with the latest in car seat technology, to enable them to give advice to the public on securing the seats in their vehicles.

During Child Safety Week, firefighters will be attending various children’s centres in Cheltenham and Gloucester offering free car seat checks.

Anyone requiring a car seat safety check can request one by contacting the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service community safety team on 01452 753333 or online at


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Safety first for community groups

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Black and minority ethnic communities from Gloucestershire were invited to the county’s SkillZONE centre to mark Global Road Safety Week.

The state-of-the-art centre in Tuffley Lane, Gloucester, is a unique village which gives people of all ages the chance to visit 16 zones, each designed to teach them how to recognise a range of dangerous situations, including on the road, in the water or at home.

The sessions were held from 11am to 2pm on Wednesday 8th May and Saturday 11th May, and focused particularly on road safety issues.

Twelve members of the Gloucester Bangladeshi Women’s Group were given a tour of the centre on Wednesday, with interpreters on hand to help explain the scenarios. A number of other families from the county’s Asian community visited on Saturday.

Road safety team leader Andre Bovington said: “This has been a great opportunity to open up SkillZONE to groups who may not otherwise have seen what the centre has to offer. It is vital for us at the Road Safety Partnership to reach out to all community groups in the county, giving everyone essential information and advice about reducing the risk of injury when using Gloucestershire’s roads. 

“Our messages during this week have been about pedestrian safety and, although many of us think walking is a simple and easy way to get about, sadly there are still too many people, most of whom are adults, being hit by motorists in built-up areas.

“Everyone who came took something away with them and many of the visitors told us how much they appreciated being reminded of such important safety advice.”

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Road safety sessions are a class act

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Children from Cooper’s Edge Primary School were given a lesson in how to be street smart at Gloucestershire’s SkillZONE, as part of National Road Safety Week.

The Brockworth school was invited to attend a unique session at the interactive centre for community safety by Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, with a focus on the risks associated with crossing the road, using public transport and avoiding distractions in a busy town centre. 

SkillZONE proved to be the perfect place to teach vital road safety messages, using its state-of-the-art village setting to make the children aware of the greatest risks to their age group. The youngsters were then asked questions about the safety advice they were given.

Sian Hamlett, Year 6 teacher at Cooper’s Edge Primary, said: “Road safety is something that children need to be made aware of from an early age and the scenarios at SkillZONE really bring home the risks if youngsters aren’t aware of their surroundings. 

“Our classes had a great time taking part in the challenges. It’s so much more memorable if the children can see examples of the dangers at first hand, but in a safe environment such as this.” 

Police casualty data from 2007-2011 shows that a quarter of all pedestrians injured on the county’s roads were aged between 10 and 19 years old.

More than 90% of the casualties took place in an urban setting and more than 80% occurred during daylight hours.

Andre Bovington, Road Safety Team Leader at Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, said: “SkillZONE has already proved to be a fantastic talking point for schools and groups in the county because it is such a unique way of teaching children these very important safety messages.

“It is great fun, but all the lessons learned relate to real-life situations that many young people find themselves in.”

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for community safety said: “Road Safety Week highlights the many organisations and agencies that are working together to keep local residents safe and we pride ourselves on our safety record in this county. However, one casualty on the road is one too many and so sessions such as these are vital.”

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