SFRS launches new British Sign Language training initiative

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British Sign Language training

Liz McCluskey of Deaf Services Lanarkshire; British Sign Language instructor Louise McCafferty; SFRS Community Safety Advocates Shona Scott and Julie Muir 

The deaf community in South Lanarkshire will receive greater support to stay safe at home thanks to a pioneering new project led by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

The initiative – a first-of-its-kind in Scotland – will see two SFRS Community Safety Advocates (CSAs) formally trained as certified Level 2 British Sign Language-accredited interpreters.

Launched in partnership with Deaf Services Lanarkshire, CSAs Shona Scott and Julie Muir will undertake training to communicate key fire safety advice to the deaf community.

SFRS is committed to ensuring those who are at a higher risk from fire are visited by firefighters as a matter of priority.

This innovative new training scheme follows the opening of the Service’s Safe and Well House at its HQ in Cambuslang, where firefighters support the elderly population by helping them learn how to look out for signs of danger that could lead to slips and trips, while also identifying the needs of those living with dementia.

Alistair Stewart is SFRS Local Area Liaison Officer in South Lanarkshire.

He said: “It’s vital that we are able to deliver our fire safety messages to each and every member of society, especially groups who are under-represented.

“This hugely exciting new partnership will help ensure members of our deaf community have equal access to key safety messages.”

It’s estimated that British Sign Language is used by more than 12,500 people in Scotland, and up to 1,000 in Lanarkshire.

The launch of this training scheme comes as the SFRS looks at transforming and extending the role of the firefighter for the future.

Graeme Binning, SFRS Local Senior Officer for South Lanarkshire, added: “It has given me great pleasure to see the relationship between Deaf Services Lanarkshire and SFRS in South Lanarkshire blossom over the period of the last two years.

“From the initial challenge of how to deliver the SFRS safety message to members of the deaf community, and the commitment of both organisations to work towards a sustainable solution, only serves to underline the potential which lies in true partnership working to making our communities safer.”

Liz McCluskey of Deaf Services Lanarkshire said: “On behalf of Deaf Services Lanarkshire I sincerely appreciate the work that has gone into developing this key partnership, which will ensure that members of our deaf community are more aware of the potential hazards around the family home.”

This initiative follows the ground-breaking British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill in 2015, which was passed through the Scottish Parliament with the backing of all political parties.

To arrange a free Home Fire Safety, contact SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999, text ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or fill in a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk

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