Always here during times of crisis

A firefighter has called on the region to look out for each other after revealing the service were called to help more than 100 people in distress – in just six months.

Tommy Richardson is the mental health lead at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and has made the plea as part of World Mental Health Day.

Firefighters at the Service are among the first responders to reports of people in crisis on a bridge or on the cliff edge.

For those who do fall into the water, it is the TWFRS boat that rushes to their aid and rescues them from the river or sea.

They work closely with Northumbria Police, and the region’s mental health leads, to then help ensure those individuals get the support they need.

And as the world promotes World Mental Health Day today (Sunday), TWFRS have revealed they have been called to 117 incidents of people in distress across the region.

FF Richardson, who has also helped launched a life-saving throwline programme, has called on the region to look out for friends, family and neighbours.

He said: “Over the past year many of us have struggled with the challenges of lockdown and social isolation but it’s important to remember you are never alone.

“Every mind matters – the aim is lead happier, healthier lives and cope with life’s challenges.

“We have had more than a hundred call outs to people in distress in just six months and that shows the scale of the issue.

“Today is World Mental Health Day and it is a great vehicle to raise awareness of some of the struggles our communities are going through.

“But this is something we need to be doing every day as a society so please do check in on your friends, family and neighbours to see if they are okay.

“We will continue to work in collaboration with our key partners across the region to help increase awareness of the support that is out there.

“But if people do need our help in a crisis, we will be there to try and keep you safe.”

Since 2017, TWFRS have been working closely with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RLNI) on the Community Responder Throwline Programme.

The life-saving joint scheme saw TWFRS work together with both the RNLI and Northumbria Police to deliver throwline training to riverside businesses.

It was launched in response to a steady increase in the number of individuals who found themselves in trouble in the water.