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Rowland creates a stir at Safeside!

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:

Ambulance attends Safeside

WMAS hand over ambulance to Safeside

School children from Birmingham ended up at the scene of a road traffic collision yesterday but, thankfully, it was just a new scenario at the indoor educational village at Safeside.

Year five pupils from Cotteridge Junior and Infant School visited West Midlands Fire Service’s Safeside facility in the City’s Eastside for a day of interactive learning. The educational village consists of a realistic full size street which includes a complete with shops, toucan crossing, double decker bus, car, canal, house, train and more.

The villages’ newest edition is thanks to West Midlands Ambulance Service who has provided Safeside with a fully functional ambulance to enhance the road safety scenarios and enable children to familiarise themselves with the ins and outs of what’s on board.

Andy Jeynes, the Trust’s Community Response Manager for Birmingham and the Black Country, said: “The village at Safeside is a remarkable facility which enables youngsters to experience scenarios in almost real-life settings. We’re really happy to be able to support this educational facility with the addition of an ambulance which is complete with medical equipment, a realistic ‘patient’ and of course lights and sirens which are always popular with children.

“As a Trust we are passionate about engaging with youngsters about the role of the ambulance service and when it’s appropriate to dial 999. We hope that if children have an opportunity to jump in the back of an ambulance in a friendly setting, like Safeside, they will be less frightened and apprehensive if they’re ever unfortunate enough to need our help.”

Rob Hattersley, Safeside Manager, said: "The ambulance is a fantastic addition to the street scene, bringing learning to life for our visitors. After covering the causes of distraction to pedestrians at our working toucan crossing, such as smartphones or music, visitors can see inside the ambulance and understand the potential consequences of a lack of attention.

"We've been delighted at the support we've had from our partners at the ambulance service. It's been useful to review our scripts to ensure key messages are getting through, for example about correct use of 999, and we're delighted with the provision of our new ambulance. It's demonstrated the importance of seeing Safeside as a partnership project between different agencies all with the aim of Making West Midlands Safer."

Emma Wilkins, the Trust’s Head of Community Response, said: “This is a fantastic example of partnership working with West Midlands Fire Service which is helping us to engage with young people and build awareness about road safety and the ambulance service.”

Grass greener at Safeside

We're pleased to announce our latest scenario update: a garden area. Parents often assume that under fives are safe in the garden and lessen their supervision, but in fact every year accidents occur from dangers including water, electricity, chemicals and sharp objects.
The scenario will therefore provide a discussion point on our Safestart programme around padding pools and ponds, garden chemicals and machinery. The aim is not to scare but make aware. We want children to play outside more not less but be safe when doing so.
We are grateful to Wilkos and Easy Shed for their support in providing materials and support for this scheme.

Safe Journey!

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.
Safeside is currently taking 2014-15 bookings for primary schools. Book online at

The Safer Travel Partnership is comprised of Centro, the region's public transport co-ordinator, West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and transport operators.

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