We are aware that many of you may well be concerned as to how the evolving coronavirus situation may affect the support we can provide to you at this time. We will therefore post regular updates in regards to our services and other activities on Facebook, Twitter and our website. Please be sure to check back regularly to find out how we can support you through this difficult time.

New health app portal partnership – Thursday 2 April

We have been working with Orcha, the World’s leading health app evaluation and advisor organisation, to provide our beneficiaries with access to a library of reviewed and evaluated health and wellbeing apps.

Launch of Coronavirus Support Hub – Tuesday 31 March

Whether you’re a key worker or you’re staying at home, we know many of our community are worried about the virus and its implications on your mental health, physical health and social wellbeing. So we’ve gathered some resources to keep you informed. You can find them in our Coronavirus Support Hub.

An update from our Chief Executive – Friday 27 March
Dear friends,

We are all facing an unprecedented situation following the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Government’s recommendations regarding home working and social distancing. Here at The Fire Fighters Charity, the wholly necessary restrictions to protect the most vulnerable in our society have had a significant effect on our ability to provide our services and operate as normal.

The impact of COVID-19 on our opportunities for traditional fundraising are also substantial and will, we estimate, see our regular income fall by around £1m over the next three months. This loss of income has played a significant role in the decisions we have had to make regarding our employees.

In reviewing the support offered through the Government’s recent Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme support package, we have taken the very difficult decision to place a number of employees who are in particular roles, on a period of furlough leave.

This has not been an easy decision and I and my Senior Leadership Team colleagues have sought to balance the need to provide some services with the organisational need for financial support. I am sorry that employees are being put in this position, but the situation is unprecedented and requires unprecedented action.

However, to you all, I remind you that we are still open for business, albeit working with a substantially reduced number of employees. Our services are being provided differently, but will still be delivered with the professionalism and quality you have come to expect of us. We will also, as always, seek to provide the tailored support that you need, when you need it.

The 0800 389 8820 access line is taking calls. Callers will speak with a practitioner who will be able to offer advice and support from the following services:

For those seeking mental health support:
Access to the Togetherall or the SHOUT helpline for those in crisis. We will, where appropriate signpost to other organisations for support.
Regularly updated advice and information via our website, including articles, interviews and multimedia content offering support with issues such as anxiety and stress during periods of social isolation and distancing.

For those seeking physical health support:

A telephone or remote consultation, advice and exercise prescription via digital exercise programme
Regularly updated advice and information via our website, including articles, interviews and multimedia content offering support with issues such as maintaining your physical fitness during periods of social isolation and distancing.

For those seeking welfare support:
Contact with a welfare case worker, appropriate assessment and solution development
Regularly updated advice and information via our website, including articles, interviews and multimedia content, including a reference library for relevant online information regarding coronavirus and its implications, from our recommended and trusted sources.

For those seeking social contact:
Referral to the Communities Development Lead who is establishing a contact support system
Please note:

We are currently unable to take applications for residential services.

Our Customer Care team are responding to general calls and enquiries via our Head Office telephone number 01256 366566 or via email customercare@firefighterscharity.org.uk

As we move through this difficult period, our available services will develop further.

As I said in my letter last week, thank you, your ongoing support and commitment to our Charity, is truly appreciated. With your continued help and support, we will work through this challenging period and emerge refreshed, with new skills, innovations and new approaches to supporting the UK’s fire services community.

Keep safe, keep well.

Kind regards

Jill Tolfrey CEO.

Update on our web shop – Thursday 26 March

In order to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, customers and suppliers, we regretfully inform you that we are currently unable to offer our usual full range of products from our web shop.

Elvis & Kresse, who produce bespoke accessories from recycled fire hose; Ballantynes – our supplier of crystalware and statuettes and William Wood Watches – our watch supplier – are all currently operating but on a smaller scale than usual. As such, while they are still able to dispatch orders, delivery times may be longer than usual on certain products.

We will continue to monitor the situation in line with government guidelines and will keep our customers informed should things change.

We hope normal service will be resumed as quickly as possible and appreciate your understanding at this difficult time. Wishing all the best to our supporters and customers.

A letter from our Chief Executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey – Friday 20 March

Notwithstanding the withdrawal of residential services to our beneficiaries, we also face the impact of a potentially substantial loss of fundraising income. There is, however during this time, real opportunity for the Charity to press ahead with providing support digitally and by telephone to our beneficiaries – we are open for business – we are just working differently.

We are fortunate that within the UKFRS we have an amazing beneficiary base, many of whom are working through this difficult time continuing to be there if and when we need them, we also have  an innovative and entrepreneurial workforce, supported by some pretty amazing innovative and entrepreneurial volunteers; we can get through this challenge by all working together.

The speed of change is great; the senior leadership team are seeking to predict timelines, next steps in Government advice and necessary actions over the coming days and weeks. We are planning for the worst possible scenario, whilst hoping for the best.

I and my SLT colleagues are confident that we can continue to provide some support to our beneficiaries – albeit differently but equally effectively – during what we know will be a testing time. Inevitably we will learn lessons along the way, and we will revise our approach as necessary and in accordance with Government advice. I will of course, keep you informed as we progress through this time.

To you all I say this – thank you, your ongoing support and commitment to our Charity, it is truly appreciated. With your help and support, we will work through this challenging period and emerge refreshed, with new skills, innovations and new approaches to supporting our beneficiaries.

With social distancing as the norm, I wish you a safe and peaceful weekend.

Keep well and take care.

Jill Tolfrey CEO.

The Fire Fighters Charity centres to close to beneficiaries until further notice – Tuesday 17 March

Following the latest advice from the government in regards to social distancing and unnecessary travel, we have reluctantly decided to close our three centres to beneficiaries.

Harcombe House in Devon will close from Tuesday 17 March, while Jubilee House in Cumbria and Marine Court in West Sussex will close from Saturday 21 March. 

Those beneficiaries currently being supported at our centres will be able to complete their stays, but no new residential programmes will operate from any of the centres until further notice. 

We appreciate that this will be disappointing for many, especially those with a need for physical or psychological support. However, while our centres may be closed, we will explore new ways to support our beneficiaries remotely and will continue to provide support in whatever ways we can in the weeks and months ahead. 

These are worrying and uncertain times, but as your Charity, we will continue to work with you and do whatever we can to support the health and wellbeing of our community. 

Our Customer Care team can be reached on 01256 366566 or customercare@firefighterscharity.org.uk  and our Support Line remains open on 0800 389 8820. 

Living Well Groups

As the majority of our Living Well Group attendees identify as being amongst the groups most at risk from Covid-19, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our groups with immediate effect.  

We will be in touch with any beneficiaries who regularly attend a group and we will aim to provisionally restart groups from June onwards. However, due to uncertainty over the longevity of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, any rescheduled dates will also be subject to change. 

We are also working to explore options for creating online equivalent groups for the coming weeks and months, to support those facing a period of self isolation. We will keep you updated on this. 

If you have any questions regarding Living Well Groups, please contact Clare Hannaford on 07970 107933. 

Car wash league postponed

In light of the evolving situation, we have decided to suspend our March National Car Wash League until further notice. The health and wellbeing of our employees, members of our fire and rescue services who work so hard to fundraise through the National Car Wash for us and the general public whose cars we clean, is our absolute priority.

We apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this may cause and thank all those who had signed up for the Car Wash for their support.

In regards to other regular Charity events that happen on fire stations across the country, we will continue to work closely with fire and rescue services, following their guidance in regards to visitors on to stations. In line with this, all upcoming station talks and meetings will also therefore be cancelled.

Regular updates will be posted on our social media pages and website and, whilst our fundraising on stations takes a break, anyone wishing to donate to The Fire Fighters Charity can do so online

Further Information

If you have any health concerns, check the NHS website for up-to-date advice and guidance, and for regular updates on travel information, symptoms and precautionary measures.

If you are concerned that you are unwell or unsure about your symptoms, the NHS advice line is 111.

PHE has published some frequently asked questions on the coronavirus.

Public Health England recommend that everyone should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene. There are NHS guidelines on good hand hygiene.