This week Rowland Smith guided his 400th tour of West Midlands Fire Service’s Safeside centre in Birmingham. He has delivered key safety messages to around 2,400 children during the 6 years he has volunteered at the centre.
Here you can see Rowland pictured with his certificate in his favorite scenario, the kitchen! “I look forward to coming to Safeside,” said Rowland, Safeside Volunteer Visitor Guide. “It is very rewarding knowing that the children have learned something about safety.”
Janet Wilson, Volunteer Manager said: “Not only has Rowland conducted 400 tours to children from across the West Midlands but he is also one of our longest serving leader and mentor guides, training numerous volunteers in the art of delivering the Junior Citizen programme. In addition Rowland has become infamous on the dance floor at our annual Christmas party and can be relied upon to give a brilliant display of rocking and rolling.”
Safeside at Eastside is a scenario-based experimental learning centre, designed to encourage visitors to think and act safely. It is complemented by a smaller centre, Safeside at Handsworth. The flagship indoor ‘village’ includes a realistic, life-sized street scene, complete with pedestrian crossing, car and double-decker bus, a house, shop, pub, police station and building society. Visitors also encounter a full-sized train carriage and rail track, and water-based scenarios.
Safeside’s programmes play a key role in the prevention and education services provided by West Midlands Fire Service, all designed to make the West Midlands safer. The majority of visitors are primary school Key Stage 2 pupils, but secondary students and others with special educational needs, plus young adults and parents of younger children are also among the target groups.
Volunteer Visitor Guides are a critical part of the Safeside Team and are essential to the delivery of the key messages on the Junior Citizen Programme. Find out more about volunteering at Safeside: https://www.safeside.org.uk/volunteer.
Great excitement today at Safeside as Centro contractors start work on converting our old pub into a Travel Centre, and by co-incidence I also met with Centro colleague to plan how to use it.
The new scenario will enable us to teach upper primary children important skills in journey planning, with an emphasis on them developing greater independence from adults as they move towards secondary school. By encouraging walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing, not only can children become more autonomous, they can also make their journeys greener.
The scenario will eventually use iPads on which pupils plan a journey from Safeside to other Birmingham attractions, using various online tools and apps. They will compare the different travel options by time, distance, price and CO2 emissions. But, because it takes place in a realistic travel centre with maps and leaflets like the one at New Street, children will also understand the value of paper-based materials too.
Linked to the new Travel Centre is a second workshop on our bus, focusing on the benefits of using public transport and the skills and awareness children need to do so safely. Pupils will see themselves on CCTV, deal with a suspicious character, and watch and discuss a video about the consequences of travel crime and what to do about it. They will be presented with several real life travel dilemmas such as what to do if you forget your fare or miss your stop.
Instead of parents being concerned about their children travelling and thus restricting freedom, the hope is that they can be more confident that young people have the skills and awareness to do so safely and independently, increasing fitness levels and reducing congestion and CO2 all at the same time.
The new workshops start from our first school visits in September.
And why are we getting rid of the pub? Well, installed as part of our original fit out, the idea was clearly to educate visitors about the effects of alcohol. In practice, we've found it more effective to do this in the alleyway, house, shop and so on, because these are the areas where alcohol tends to be abused. In fact, the pub is a relatively safe environment for children in the sense that it is hopefully supervised with clear legal restrictions. So we weren't really using it. We think our safer travel workshops will be made even more engaging by running them in a realistic travel centre and bus rather than in a classroom.
Thousands of West Midlands school children are set to benefit from a brand new travel information centre designed and built just for them!
The facility opened today at West Midlands Fire Service’s flagship Safeside safety venue. It has been funded by Centro and is part of a continuing partnership between the West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership Anti Social Behaviour Team, Centro’s Education Team and Safeside.
Young visitors to the centre on Vauxhall Road in Nechells, Birmingham will learn important skills in journey planning, with an emphasis on them developing greater independence as they move towards secondary school.
'By encouraging walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing, not only can children become more autonomous, they can also make their journeys greener,” explained Rob Hattersley, Safeside manager.
“The scenario will eventually make use of electronic tablets on which pupils will plan a journey from Safeside to other Birmingham attractions, using various online tools, maps and apps. They’ll compare the different travel options by time, distance, price and CO2 emissions. But, because it takes place in a realistic travel centre with maps and leaflets - just like the one at New Street – children will also learn the value of paper-based materials.”
Laura Graham of Safer Travel added “This resource is a great addition to an already fantastic centre. Children can learn exactly what they need to know about using public transport, and the more confident children feel in preparing to travel and the safer they feel when using the bus the more they will be encouraged about using it.”
Linked to the new travel scenario is a new interactive workshop, based on a National Express double decker bus which is parked on Safeside’s indoor street. The session will focus on the benefits of using public transport and the skills and awareness children need to do so safely.
Pupils will see themselves on CCTV, deal with a suspicious character, and watch and discuss a video about the consequences of travel crime and what to do about it. They will be presented with several real-life travel dilemmas, including what to do if they forget their fare or miss their stop.