Two Hampshire fire stations have opened new garden spaces for their firefighters to sit, reflect and reduce the impact of work on their wellbeing.
Over the last few months Redbridge and Havant crews have revitalised parts of their station to create a relaxing and calm place for firefighters and other members of staff to enjoy.
The Redbridge garden was opened by Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin in July and includes a pond, bird tables and new furniture.
Redbridge Station Manager Rob Jenks said:
“I am so proud of what our teams have achieved. Everyone who’s attended the opening event agreed that all the hard work has really paid off.”
“I’m delighted that we have this fantastic resource, which is open to any member of staff to use at any time.”
The success of the garden at the Southampton station was quickly followed by Redbridge’s colleagues in Havant.
The garden space at the East Hampshire station is being transformed by firefighters and staff at local company Apollo Fire Detectors Ltd. As well as getting their hands dirty the smoke alarm manufacturers will also be funding a new HFRS ‘A Better Me’ course for students aged 11 or 12 years old to improve their health and confidence.
Havant Crew Manager Simon Morford said:
“The entire crew at Havant Fire Station are so grateful for Apollo’s sponsorship of our ‘A Better Me’ course. Working together will mean that we can support these young people and empower them. They’ll gain confidence, learn valuable life skills, and have amazing life experiences. In the process, encouraging positivity and self-respect.”
The mental health of firefighters has been in the spotlight in recent years and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to supporting staff following traumatic incidents.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter said:
“I am hugely proud of the strides our organisation has made in terms of raising awareness of mental health issues and supporting our colleagues.
“The outstanding work that has gone into designing, building and maintaining these tranquil spaces shows the wellbeing of our staff really is at the heart of everything we do.
“The gardens represent an essential area on station which allows our people to take time away from the challenges they face each day.”
HFRS launched their Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) assessments in 2016 which gets firefighters talking about the incidents they have attended to avoid them carrying harrowing images with them and suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Specially trained members of staff are on hand to discuss these incidents, provide help and see what other support is needed.
The service is also training more and more of their own staff to become Mental Health First Aiders alongside other supportive events during Mental Health Awareness Week including a successful charity five-a-side football tournament titled ‘Tackling Stigma’.