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New service to provide support in crisis

PUBLISHED: 02:15 13 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

PEOPLE whose homes have been damaged by fire, floods or other disasters are to be helped by a new service.

The Suffolk branch of the British Red Cross is preparing to launch the support scheme, in partnership with Suffolk Fire Service.

PEOPLE whose homes have been damaged by fire, floods or other disasters are to be helped by a new service.

The Suffolk branch of the British Red Cross is preparing to launch the support scheme, in partnership with Suffolk Fire Service.

The Fire Victim Support Service will be the 28th such scheme in the country, and workers will attend the scene of emergencies, at any time of the day or night, 365 days a the year.

They will travel in a purpose-built vehicle to offer practical and emotional support, help with seeking temporary accommodation if necessary, and offer advice on how to deal with the crisis.

The vehicle will become a temporary refuge for the first hour or two following the incident. People will be able to regain their composure and dignity, away from the gaze of onlookers. Shower and toilet facilities are available on-board, as is clothing for all, from a newly born baby, to adults.

Light refreshments will also be available, even for pets.

A mobile telephone will enable people to contact family and friends, employers or insurance companies, and photographs from the Polaroid camera will help later, when dealing with housing agencies or insurance companies.

Victims will also be offered a booklet which giving practical advice on subjects like how to best dry out wet carpets, or how to make an insurance claim, with a list of emergency contact numbers.

Graham Saward, the service co-ordinator said: "This service will make a real contribution to the aftercare available to people following a fire or some other emergency, but it will also be very rewarding for our volunteers who will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped people in their personal crisis, whilst at the same time making new friends."

An open evening has been arranged for November 23, starting at 7.30pm at the Red Cross Centre, 15 Chevallier Street, Ipswich.

Anyone who may be interested in becoming a volunteer, or who would just like more information about the service is welcome to come along.

The service is funded by voluntary donations, and would welcome approaches from individuals or companies who may be able to offer financial or material support.

For more details, call 01284 767215.

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