A BRADFORD program to provide victims of domestic violence with a safe place to seek the help they need may soon be rolled out in West Yorkshire.
And a committee heard that in one incident it helped prevent a youngster from committing suicide.
Bradford Council’s Safe Spot program involves public buildings such as libraries and community centers serving as places people can go to escape the problems they face at home.
All Bradford fire stations are involved in the project. Anyone who shows up at a station will receive information about charities and organizations that could help them, and will be able to call them without fear that their attacker will be able to listen to them.
Although firefighters are not there to provide advice and support themselves, they have been trained to spot signs of domestic violence and abuse and give victims the phone numbers or contacts they need.
At a meeting of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority’s Community Safety Committee on Friday, members were told the program would likely be rolled out to all West Yorkshire fire stations in the future.
Scott Donnegan, Zone Manager for Prevention and Response at the West Yorkshire Fire Department, said: âWe work closely with domestic violence charities in Bradford to educate and train all of our staff in the area. district.
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âAll Bradford fire stations are now safe places. People will know that if you approach a fire station in the district, you will be safe and taken care of.
âWe will seek to extend this to the whole region, because the added value to a region is enormous.
âPeople who have come to fire stations with a number of health issues such as mental health and concerns about personal safety. ”
Councilor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) wanted to know more about the initiative and what happens when a person shows up at a station.
Mr Donnegan said: âPeople who ask for help are nothing new to firefighters. The staff are all controlled by the DBS and have protection training.
âWe had an incident where a youth was about to kill himself while standing in front of a train.
“Fortunately, she looked at the fire station and made the choice to go instead.”
He said that when a person showed up at a station, a crew would “withdraw” from normal fire duties. Mr Donnegan added: “It could mean that a fire engine is not available, but it could prevent a much more serious situation that we would be forced out of anyway.”
He added: “We are deciding if a crime has taken place and we need to involve the police or is there a health requirement for that person.”
Ben Bush, District Commander for Bradford, said: âWe are really proud that the fire department is a trusted service.
âWe don’t ask our staff to be counselors, but we make them more aware of what domestic violence is and its signs. It gives firefighters greater confidence and understanding when dealing with people.
âIt may be that a person just wants a quiet space to call an organization that can help them, or maybe we will have to make calls for them depending on the situation. ”
Members were told that the stations had signs on their doors informing people that this station was a safe place.
Some wondered if something more visible should be added, like a flag, to make sure more people were aware of the service offered at this station.