As Safeguarding Adults Week (20-24 November) comes to a close, Rachel Kearn, Safeguarding Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, sheds light on the efforts undertaken to help protect the most vulnerable individuals in the community from the risk of fire.
Over the past three years, higher risk referrals at ECFRS have risen from approximately 50 to 60 per month to over 140 per month, with a significant proportion coming from partner agencies.
Those with a higher risk of fire due to, for example, hoarding, neglect, mental health concerns, are supported by one of the dedicated team of five Safeguarding Officers who specialise in advising individuals in these situations.
Once a referral has been assessed by the ECFRS Safeguarding Team it can be sent to social care and/or allocated to a one of the Safeguarding Officers.
The officer will then arrange to visit the individual. They will work alongside partner agencies to ensure the individual is given a person-centred approach, with support and advice given appropriate to their circumstances.
Rachel Kearn, said: "I really enjoy my role; no two visits are the same and I like meeting and supporting different people.
"It's rewarding to know that we have made a difference and had a positive impact on people's lives.
“We know that many of the issues such as hoarding or mental health concerns, can put people at a much greater risk of having a fire or being injured by fire in their home.
“That’s why it’s really important we identify these risks as early as possible and give people the support they need.”
If you have a concern that someone is at an increased risk of fire, needs fire safety advice and/ or needs working smoke alarms, please follow this link https://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/online-home-safety-check
If there is an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call 999.