SFRS urges communities to reach out this Christmas

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Christmas Hazards _04_square


AN experienced firefighter has issued a rallying call to communities to look out for lonely neighbours, friends and relatives this Christmas.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service works alongside partners to protect the most vulnerable people in society from risks such as fire within the home.

But the Service has also worked in partnership to identify those who are lonely and isolated and taken an active role in encouraging people to look after their mental health.

It is believed that just six per cent of adults in Scotland have contact with friends, family or neighbours less than once a week, according to statistics from the Scottish Government’s ‘A Connected Scotland’.

And more than a third of adults in Scotland live alone – with 40 per cent of that number being in the pensionable age bracket.

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Alasdair Perry said: “The effects of loneliness can be overwhelming - and particularly so during the festive period.

“We are talking about young single parents, elderly couples, people living with disability and even young children poorly supported by their families. Anyone can be affected, and for a number of different reasons.

“We are asking communities to join with us this Christmas and reach out to their neighbours, friends and relatives.

“The smallest gesture of a cup of tea and a chat can mean so much to someone who may have had no contact for several days.”

The Service is also asking communities to signpost firefighters to vulnerable people who may be in need of support to stay safe from fire and other risks within the home. The Service offer free Home Fire Safety Visits.  Service personnel will help you sort out a fire escape plan and provide information about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms.

The risk of fire increases during the festive period for a number of reasons including an increased use of electricity, a combination of flammable decorations and naked flames such as candles, and also increased alcohol consumption.

DACO Perry said: “There are people across Scotland who have little to no contact with their friends, neighbours or support services.

“They can be elderly, perhaps with little to no family, or they can be young, vulnerable and fallen on hard times – isolated from friends, family and support through no fault of their own.

“We need to reach these forgotten members of our communities – and especially so at this time of year – to ensure they get the support that they need to stay safe within the home.

“Together we can work to save lives - in more ways than one.”