Fire and Rescue Services already have a long history in delivering wide and varied prevention activities to improve safety at national, community and individuals levels. We take pride in the work we do and the difference we can make.
In 2016 we signed up to the Social Impact Pledge, a Scottish Government initiative aimed at increasing the social impact of public sector organisations across Scotland. We wholeheartedly took up the challenge of the Pledge to increase the positive impact we make and to use of our assets – our buildings and our people - better for increased community benefit.
Each year we are asked to identify three commitments. These should be something that we do differently, an increase or change of activity for example. Following a service wide request to submit details of relevant initiatives or projects, the Board approved our third set of three commitments in April 2019. These are:
Commitment 1 – Human Trafficking Reduction Initiative
“By working with our partners, we will continue to pro-actively develop our skills and awareness to keep those most vulnerable in our communities safe from harm.”
After human trafficking was identified as an issue within the City of Glasgow area, as well as a priority area for the Scottish Government, local SFRS teams contacted partners within Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit (NHTU) to establish how SFRS could help to address this issue within Glasgow.
Following initial contact, NHTU have delivered awareness training to the Area’s Community Action Team and the Fire Safety Enforcement Team. A series of training is now being planned to provide the same input to the 55 fire station watches across the city. This will provide our frontline staff with the awareness they need to identify any areas of concern that could point to human trafficking, and a route to refer these incidents to Police Scotland for further investigation.
Although still in the early stages of the roll-out, staff who have received the training have already used their new skills to raise concerns and highlight what was believed to be human trafficking to Police Scotland. This has allowed our partners at Police Scotland to directly target their resources to certain premises.
To fulfil our statutory duties against human trafficking and exploitation, there is also real potential for this project to be rolled out across the SFRS, targeting areas with similar concerns.
Commitment 2 – Positive Steps with Partners
“By working within our communities, we will help to remove barriers to job opportunities, enabling full-time employment and assisting to tackle local poverty and inequality."
Positive Steps is an employability project supporting long-term unemployed residents of North Ayrshire to gain new skills and experiences, supporting progression into employment.
The project offers opportunities in personal development and the chance to gain new work-based skills through volunteering with various community planning partners, including the SFRS, the Ayrshire Community Trust, and North Ayrshire Council.
As well as receiving an eight week core skills development programme, volunteers will have the opportunity to work with the local SFRS Community Action Team to provide free fire safety advice to support Ayrshire’s residents.
To date, the programme has enlisted 143 people onto the full programme. 49 people have been provided with the opportunity to move into a volunteer work placement, and a further 20 have progressed to additional learning educations. 17 volunteers have now successfully secured full-time employment.
Although this project is currently unique to the Ayrshire area, the ongoing aspiration is to seek funding to run similar initiatives in other Local Authority Areas. Commitment 3 - Community Action Team (CAT) Cycle Patrols
Commitment 3 – Together Angus Project, Brechin
“By offering practical assistance, alongside our partners, we will work to reduce inequality and child poverty.”
The project is a six way partnership project between the SFRS, Voluntary Action Angus, Citizens Advice Bureau, Home Start Angus, Tayside Council on Alcohol, and Angus Women’s Aid.
The project aims to reduce inequalities and child poverty in the East Brechin area of Angus – an area that was identified for this initiative due to the unmet needs of the community who experience the most significant multiple deprivation in Angus.
Partners work closely to offer practical home support, drug and alcohol recovery mentoring, local financial support and increasing opportunities for volunteering and SQA qualifications.
The project is located in Brechin Community Fire Station providing a base for all partner organisations to come together and offer a one-stop-shop to families and children who are struggling every day and who have, until now, not been afforded the same opportunities as others within their community.
Currently run in East Brechin, it is hoped that the initiative can be expanded to cover other areas.
Information on the positive impact our Social Impact Pledge Initiatives from 2016 are making within the community can be accessed in our Previous Pledges page.
More information on the Social Impact Pledge Initiative and other organisations’ commitments is available on the Communities Channel Scotland website.