Being able to reach more members of the UK’s fire services community and being able to offer them personalised support that is tailored to them. This is the cornerstone on which our support philosophy is based.

Over the years we have been continually developing how and where we provide help to the people who turn to us, and recently this has included exploring how technology could support us in doing so. While it was always our intention to expand our services further in a digital world, the unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have acted as a catalyst in progressing these plans.

Although we are still adapting to new ways of working in light of the coronavirus, this is an exciting time for us. Every member of the UK’s fire family should be able to turn to us when they need support and this next chapter for our services will help us reach more people in ways that are convenient and appropriate for them, whatever is affecting their health and wellbeing. So here is what you can expect when you next reach out to us for support.

Changes to application process

In order to quickly identify the solution that best works for you, we’ve made changes to our application process. We’ve taken away some of the admin we previously asked you to complete when submitting an application and will instead focus on the initial conversation we have with you. Our Support Line is operated by three Assessment Practitioners who will work with you to find the best possible option to meet your need and put you in touch with the most appropriate member of our team to help you. To enquire about our services, you can either call us on 0800 389 8820 or make an enquiry online.

Digital consultations for physical health conditions

A few months ago we told you about a piece of software we had been trialling, called Attend Anywhere. Used by our clinicians, Attend Anywhere allows our team to recreate the face-to-face experience beneficiaries receive in our centres. We can use this confidential platform to assess your condition, create a personalised programme for you that we can input to remotely using the Salaso app and, most importantly, maintain the conversation to monitor how well they’re working for you. While this provided a brilliant solution to a world in lockdown, it has also proven just how integral a role this form of assessment is in terms of people seeking support from us.

From now on, anyone coming to us for physical health support will be offered a digital consultation through Attend Anywhere during the early stages of your conversations with us. The great news about this approach is that it allows beneficiaries to begin their personalised programme within a matter of days (if not hours) of first contacting us. This may prevent the need for you having to take time off to visit us altogether, as we can bring our services into the comfort of your own home. If a residential stay is still required, then we’ll work with you to ensure that you’re in the best possible position to make the most of your time with us, because we’ll already have had all those conversations with you. And we can use it after your stay to check in with your progress, adapting things to suit as needed.

Telephone and online counselling

Alongside the psychological support we can offer people at our centres, we are delighted to share with you that we are now able to offer telephone and online counselling to those beneficiaries seeking support with their mental health. We’ll arrange an initial assessment to talk to you about what’s affecting your wellbeing and establish which of our services is most appropriate for you, whether that’s a course of counselling, a residential stay, or signposting to more specialist services.

Centre re-opening

Since closing the doors of our centres in March, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the day we’re told we can reopen them, and we’re thrilled to share that we’ll be once more offering residential stays to our beneficiaries from mid September.

However, keeping both our beneficiaries and staff safe is of the utmost importance to us, so there will be certain changes to our traditional residential stays, with smaller group numbers and reduced number of days (with longer hours) in line with regulations and our new digital way of working. We’ll be providing more information on this over the next few weeks, so watch this space.

Welfare support

Our Welfare Services team is well-rehearsed at providing bespoke support to the people in their care, finding tailored solutions for issues affecting people’s social wellbeing out in their communities. Throughout the pandemic, our Welfare Caseworkers have been continuing to help people navigate the uncertainties and struggles they have faced.

From providing a listening ear to signposting to local services, our wonderful Welfare Caseworkers are still working to help beneficiaries find their way through these uncertain times. Every single household, family and person continues to be impacted differently, so our Welfare team takes the time to listen and offer support that is as unique as you are.

Nursing clients

We are aware many of our new and existing nursing clients are looking forward to being able to re-join our ‘outstanding‘ nursing team at Jubilee House. We are looking forward to being able to welcome you back once we re-open in the autumn and we will be sharing more information on this over the next few weeks.

Continuing our commitment to make carers more visible, we’ve been shining a light on those people looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older. We know lockdown has been difficult for our country’s unsung heroes who have had to adjust to a life as a carer without their usual support network. So to try and connect some of these amazing people, we’ve created a Carers Network group via our Facebook page. Because we may not have been able to be with you in person, but we are very much with you in spirit.

Retired community

The lockdown period has been especially difficult for those vulnerable members of our communities who have had to shield themselves and their family members in order to protect them from the virus. Until they can once more meet in person, our Living Well Groups have moved online with groups across the country not letting the pandemic get in their way of continuing to socialise with retired members of the fire family in their communities.

However, we are still aware there are many members of our retired community who are not local to a group or who feel nervous about joining. Therefore we’re so pleased to be able to be launching a new nationwide Living Well Group, where we’ll connect you with like-minded retirees from across the country. Because the good thing about meeting online is that you can meet from anywhere. You can read more about our national groups here.

Health and wellbeing content

For many people turning to us for support, it may be that the answer to some of their issues could be found within our library of health and wellbeing resources. We’ve created a vast library of self-help articles on all aspects of mental health, physical health and social welfare, as well as video tutorials on exercises you can do from home and guided relaxations. We’ve also created a health and wellbeing podcast where different members of our clinical teams regularly join us to discuss all different sorts of topics that may be affecting you.

Recommended wellbeing apps

We have been working with Orcha, one of 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. You can now access the Orcha library through the following link, where you can also find more information about how Orcha reviews and evaluates health apps. Access the Orcha library here.

Here’s to the future

We’re so excited about this next phase and we’d like to thank all of you for your continued support, especially in recent months. The coronavirus pandemic has affected pretty much all aspects of life for everyone around the world, but we have been touched and honoured how many of you have supported us throughout this time. From signing up to becoming a regular donor as part of our Urgent Appeal or taking part in our Fire Family Challenge, to just showing your continued support on our burgeoning social media channels, we can’t do what we do without people like you.

So here’s to the future. If the coronavirus has shown us anything, it’s that life is unexpected. But we’ve come this far together and we’re entering this next chapter full of hope for all that we want to achieve in your name.