Blog

Open letter to our community and partners

Posted: 24/06/20

Cleveland Fire Support Network (CFSN) was founded in 2007, by Cleveland Fire Brigade. 

Its primary objectives were to offer support to the wider community and those most at risk, by providing fire safety messages and the fitting of smoke detectors.  From inception, the Charity has gone from strength to strength, supporting the community and increasing volunteering opportunities, this has increased confidences and given individuals a positive purpose in life.

Services included, Safe and Well Visits to our most vulnerable in communities, fitting and maintaining sensory loss equipment for our hearing-impaired community, supporting fire personnel at events, with displays of the chip pan unit and manning information stalls at The Cleveland Show, The Mela, The Fire Engine Rally at Preston Park, Open Days at Fire Stations and much more.

The Charity received core funding from the Fire Brigade worth £70,000 per annum and supplemented this with other income, such as; a charity store, offering basic first aid in the community to a range of groups.  Training volunteers to a competent level for portable appliance testing (P.A.T. testing) and offering this service to our third sector partners at reduced rates.

In 2015, the Cleveland Fire Brigade funding was substituted by similar funding from their new Fire Risk Management Community Interest Company (CIC) in the form of a donation.  In September 2019, this funding was withdrawn without notification and with no reflection on the work the CFSN volunteers continued to provide, but rather due to the financial health of the Fire Risk Management CIC who were experiencing difficult trading conditions.

CFSN has tried since September to have an open and honest dialogue with the Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Chief Fire Officer, Ian Hayton about how funding might be resumed or replaced, whilst continuing to provide a service up until the end of May 2020, when our reserves were becoming depleted and there continued to be no positive dialogue from CFB.   

From 2015-2019, volunteers have contributed 65,222 hours of their time and effort to the Cleveland Fire Brigade.   ‘Thank You’ from all the trustees and staff to all of the volunteers who over the years have given their time so generously.

Initially, it was thought that the Charity would have no option but to close down as we were exhausting our reserves.  After significant reflection by the trustees, we have chosen instead to mothball many of our activities while we await decisions on a number of funding and business proposals we have in the pipeline, including the opportunity to take up residence at the Sutton Centre in Middlesbrough, this is thanks to a developing relationship with The Clarion Housing Group.

It is widely accepted that in the coming months the need for the type of services and support to vulnerable people provided by CFSN across Cleveland will never be greater; the commitment of all is as strong as ever, to ensure we can continue to play our part.

We are maintaining our Handyperson Scheme as this is a much-needed resource keeping our older and more vulnerable residents safe within their own homes by reducing the risk of bogus callers and opportunist burglars. 

Cleveland Fire Support Network, provides a range of services to those most in need at the right time and more importantly at the right level.

To find out more about our story or to book the Handyperson, please email heather.whyman@clevelandfiresupportnetwork.org