Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) has teamed up with British Red Cross and The Silver Line, a charity which supports older people, to help anyone who might be feeling alone across the county.
The award-winning Safe and Well initiative is carried out by firefighters and CFRS advocates who will, as part of the visit, ask people if they need any further support in relation to their friendships and social networks. If so British Red Cross will get in touch and offer either their own services, which include an up to six week home visiting service or a telephone befriending service from The Silver Line.
It is hoped that these services will provide members of the community with the additional support they need to help with feeling alone.
Nationally, over 9 million people, almost a fifth of the population, say they are always or often lonely. If someone is often feeling alone this can contribute to the decline of their physical and mental health, which can increase their risk of having a fire within their property and reduce their ability to escape.
CFRS Head of Prevention Nick Evans said: “Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is extremely keen to support members of the community in regards to their wellbeing and preventing them from being at risk of a fire in their home.
“People over the age of 65 can receive far more than the traditional fire safety and smoke alarm advice as part of our Safe and Well visits which are designed to support people to look after themselves and stay safe and well in their homes.
“Firefighters and specialist advocates have received additional training to provide advice on slips, trips and falls, winter warmth safety, atrial fibrillation screenings, offer support to those who wish to stop smoking or reduce their alcohol consumption, and now also offer support to anyone who may be feeling alone.
“The Service is committed to preventing fires across the county with more than 8,000 people having benefited from a Safe and Well visit over the past three months – more than two per cent of those visits resulting in referrals to the appropriate health agencies.”
Ian Williamson-Owens, North West Volunteer Manager for The Silver Line said: “The Silver Line is delighted to be working alongside Cheshire Fire & Rescue Services to help older people in the region. It is a very sensible approach to bring together different services in the spirit of collaboration to deliver a range of positive outcomes for older people.”
“One of the biggest challenges about providing support for older people who may be feeling alone is that often the people who need the help most can be difficult to identify as they are behind closed doors. By working with Cheshire Fire & Rescue Services who can intervene during home visits, we can potentially reach and support many people that would otherwise not have been accessible. Older people feeling alone is an epidemic and it is important we all come together to address this issue.”
Alison Deighton, independent living service manager for the British Red Cross in Cheshire, said: “Loneliness and social isolation don’t discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning they can affect anyone regardless of their age or background.
“We all need someone to turn to in a crisis and our research suggests that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful human connections.”
Safe and Well visits will be offered to residents who are aged over 65 or who are referred to the Service by partner agencies. The visits will still incorporate the traditional fire safety information (including the fitting of free smoke alarms, if needed), but will also offer additional advice on slips, trips and fall prevention, bowel cancer screening as well as offering additional support to those who wish to stop smoking, taking drugs or reduce their alcohol consumption.
Anyone under the age of 65 can use the online home safety check which gives a personalised fire safety plan with advice on how to prevent fires in the home.
For more information visit: www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/home/safe-and-well-visits