Joining Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service eight years ago, Becci Dickens learnt early on about the support we offer all personnel – but never considered that it meant she could turn to us for help herself.
Becci is an Admin Support Officer and had assumed we mainly support firefighters. However, when she suffered an injury in 2018, she soon realised we’re also there for all non-uniform staff too, as well as their spouses, partners and dependants.
Now, thanks to your generous donations, she’s since been supported with not only her physical recovery, but also her mental health – and she’s now hoping to spread the word far and wide to other non-uniform staff who may not know about the help we could offer them too.
“I’d actually been in the role about two or three years before I realised that I was eligible for the Charity’s support,” says Becci, 44.
“I had to have an operation on my knee after a sports injury. I damaged the cartilage and had to have micro fracture surgery, which meant I had to have six weeks off work to recover. I was on crutches the whole time because I couldn’t put any weight on it.”
After speaking to her line manager during her time off, Becci was encouraged to get in touch with us – and she was later offered a stay at Jubilee House, our centre in Cumbria.
“One of my other team members had already been and they’d said it was really good and you’d really helped her,” says Becci.
“I phoned and they managed to get me in at Jubilee House for two weeks. I did a lot of building up work, gym work, swimming, and I had one-to-ones with the physios too.
“The group I was with were all lovely which really helped too. It was nice seeing where they’d come from and what they’d done. It was really good, I could do a lot more by the time I left.
“Sadly it has got worse more recently, it’s progressed into osteoarthritis. I’m mainly managing it with painkillers at the moment, which don’t help so much anymore, but I’m now on your app – My Fire Fighters Charity (MyFFC) – which has been helpful, with tips from your experts.”
Becci was able to return to work after her initial stay at Jubilee House, but sadly she began struggling with her mental health in 2019.
“I started feeling really low in the year after my injury and I knew I was starting to struggle. I know it’s important to get help early, so I reached out to the Charity again,” says Becci.
“I have had depression on and off since school really, but it can get worse at times. It’s about finding ways to deal with it in those times.
“I got in touch and I was offered a place at Jubilee House again. There were a lot of great group sessions at the centre, on things like healthy eating and stress and things like that. They really helped me open up a lot more.
“They helped me to realise the underlying issues and helped me talk about it, which can be quite hard.”
Becci says she felt a lot more positive following her second stay with us, but is conscious she wants to keep an eye on her mental wellbeing going forwards and reach out for help early if she starts to struggle again.
It’s this important message of reaching out early that we are wanting to spread round all our beneficiaries.
“I was going to get in touch again soon because I lost my mum last year,” says Becci. “My dad’s not well now too, so we’re feeling quite worried. It can be overwhelming.
“My husband’s mum died on the same day as my mum’s funeral, so I’d love him to have some support too. He’s ex-military so he’s ‘Mr tough nut’, we need to encourage people like him to speak more when they’re struggling.
“It’s a huge reassurance knowing I can pick up the phone and there’ll be somebody there.”
Having seen the support on offer, Becci now wants to ensure all her non-uniform colleagues across the UK are aware they’re eligible for help too.
“I thought, you’ve given so much to me, it’s not a lot out of my wages to give back,” she adds.
“I’m also really keen now to spread the word round others, particularly non-uniform staff like myself, who may not know about what you offer. I didn’t, and you’ve really helped me.”
You can also join our ‘Share Your Story Group in MyFFC to chat to others who have received our support, or enquire about sharing your own story.