KFRS supports homeless people to live safely

homeless people

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is at the centre of a new initiative to support homeless people and rough sleepers to live safely in temporary accommodation before moving into permanent homes. 

With government direction, charities have been working to provide people living on the streets with shelter in hotels and bed and breakfasts during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the fire service recognised the need to offer support and safety advice to those living in new and unfamiliar accommodation.

Working with the Kent-based homeless charity, Porchlight, as well as Dover Outreach Centre and the NHS’s One You Kent, KFRS hosted the first information session in Dover last month, for 18 newly housed people.

The pilot session was tailored to deliver clear fire safety advice and information about other services available to people who have experienced homelessness.

Mike Pitney, who spearheaded the initiative for KFRS, said: “For people who have been re-housed after being homeless, having lived outside of mainstream society for some time, it can take some time to re-learn the skills necessary for living independently, putting them at even greater risk of fire.

“This initiative and collaborative efforts of everyone involved has allowed us to deliver essential fire safety advice in a way that’s easy to understand, and it directs those affected to other services that can help to make them less vulnerable.

Mike Pitney (second from left) with Noel Beamish of Dover Outreach Centre.

“Following the success of the pilot session in Dover, we will continually adapt and evaluate our methods, with a view to roll the initiative out across Kent and hopefully help more vulnerable people live independently and safely.”

Noel Beamish, Manager of Dover’s Outreach Centre, said: “Despite the residents often only being able to take in limited information, the sessions were pitched perfectly and delivered in a way that even the most unreceptive resident would be empowered to take a little more care of themselves and others in the future.

“These visits are very useful to us, and we now have a greater understanding of improvements we can make to meet the residents’ safety needs.”

Rebecca Hansell, One You Team Lead, said: “The One You Kent Lifestyle Service is happy to support some of the most vulnerable members of our community as part of this initiative.

“Our friendly lifestyle advisers can make a big difference in someone’s life – whether that’s referring into our health improvement services, eating more healthily, addressing a particular behaviour change, or generally feeling better about life.”

KFRS is also working alongside the Royal British Legion and other charities to support homeless veterans and service personnel.

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