Don’t suffer in silence

(L-R) Emmalene Charlton – Tyneside and Northumberland Mind; Matty Starforth, Public Health Officer at Newcastle City Council; TWFRS Firefighter Tommy Richardson; and Laura Lawrence – TWFRS Trauma Support and Welfare Manager standing in front of an appliance at Byker Community Fire Station.

A fire service has teamed up with mental health charities to try and support those in crisis among the cost of living crisis.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have revealed all 17 of their community fire stations are dedicated safe spaces.

Last year the Service had announced that their stations were Safe Havens for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

And now they have revealed each of their stations have been equipped with palm-sized Suicide Prevention Resource Tins.

The tins can be used by TWFRS firefighters and staff to help support those individuals who come into contact with the Service when they are in crisis.

They have been devised by the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Suicide Prevention Network and are available at all fire stations.

They have revealed figures from the past 18 months, showing that firefighters attended 275 incidents across Tyne and Wear relating to people being in distress (information dated 8th September 2022).

Richie Rickaby, TWFRS Area Manager Community Safety, said:

“Over the past 18 months people throughout the region have had to deal with a number of life-changing issues such as Covid-19, lockdowns and more recently the cost of living crisis.

“That has created many challenges for us all and our incident data shows we play a central role in responding to emergencies where individuals have considered taking their own life.

“The introduction of the Suicide Awareness Tins, alongside specialist training, provides our staff with the knowledge they need to offer support to those people in crisis.”

TWFRS had been working closely with Newcastle City Council’s Public Health team who had been sharing the tins with organisations across Tyne and Wear.

The Service have also worked with the public health officials to enrol three quarters of their firefighters on specialist mental health awareness training delivered by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind; and funded by the NENC Suicide Prevention Network.

This ensures those staff who may come into contact with a person in distress are as well prepared as possible to offer appropriate advice.

This awareness programme also accompanies Mental Health First Aider training that is currently being delivered to staff members across the TWFRS workforce by the Service’s own in-house qualified Mental Health First Aid instructors.

Cllr Karen Kilgour, Newcastle City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for a Healthy, Caring City, said: “We have been working in partnership with the NENC Suicide Prevention Network to promote wellbeing, reduce the risk of suicide, and increase support to those people affected by it.

“Many organisations have been approached across Newcastle to receive various forms of suicide and mental health awareness training delivered by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, as well as the opportunity to become a tin host to ensure they have a supply of resources when they are required.

“The tins are a great idea and provide those individuals without digital access to quick and available support, and placing the tins in locations where members of the public may easily access them is a key target of the initiative.”

Advice and information can be found by visiting the Tyneside and Northumberland Mind website or which is operated by North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Suicide Prevention Network.