The Parish Safety Volunteer scheme delivered in partnership by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Essex Police sees volunteers delivering fire safety, crime prevention and signposting people to wellbeing advice to help make people safer in their homes.
Parish Safety Volunteers is funded by the Essex Partnership through the Transformation Challenge Award and in July 2015 it launched a two year pilot across Essex to be rolled out in 36 parishes across Essex to improve early intervention, reduce the risk of domestic fires and burglaries and establish strong community links.
The Parish Safety Volunteers are recruited from the local community and trained jointly by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Essex Police to deliver home safety visits to specific properties highlighted as being at risk. These properties will be identified through a mixture of the volunteers local knowledge, parish council referrals, police referrals (following burglaries) and self-referral.
The volunteers work in their own communities, each visit last around an hour and includes crime prevention advice, fire safety advice, fitting of free smoke alarms, and letting people know where to get the best health and wellbeing guidance.
Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: "The Parish Safety Volunteer scheme is a fantastic example of the collaborative work taking place between us and Essex Police as we work together to make Essex safer.
"This is a community based scheme and by using volunteers we are able to forge vital links in these communities which will live on long after the safety visit has taken place.
"The volunteers all live in the same parish where they are carrying out the visits, they will be familiar faces to people in that community and that means that us and the Police will have links to those people and their communities after the visits are over.
"This scheme shows the direction both organisations are heading in as we work more closely together to deliver protection and prevention advice to communities across Essex."
Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex Police said: "The enthusiasm and community spirit of Parish Safety Volunteers will be put to best use – making our communities safer.
"For both the police and the fire service it’s really important that we provide the right training so volunteers can give out vital guidance to residents on fire safety and how to make their homes more secure. Every smoke alarm fitted and every lock securing a shed or security light putting off a would-be burglar adds value to the work Parish Safety Volunteers are doing."
Cllr Anne Brown, Essex County Council Cabinet Member said: "I am delighted that this initiative has gone live in the pilot parishes and I encourage others to join up.
"The project has much potential to ensure that vulnerable people in our community are both safe and confident in their homes. There are many other benefits from this initiative to tackle social isolation and loneliness through support from the local community."