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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.


Book MoneyLIVE now!


MoneyLIVE, Safeside's innovative financial literacy programme, takes place in our realistic street scenarios just like all our other programmes. Delivered in partnership with Nationwide Building Society, whose staff deliver scenarios as part of their volunteering, the scheme covers credit and debit, budgeting, personal safety and security, online safety, financial products, payday loans, consequences of debt and much more.

Safeside Manager Rob Hattersley said: "Feedback we get from both teachers and Year 8 students is that teaching maths and citizenship in a real house, shop, building society branch, court room, bus and street reaches the parts that classroom maths lessons can't reach. We aren't aware of any other similar programme in the UK and are delighted that due to such dedicated support from Nationwide volunteers, we can now offer this exciting course at a new price of £2.50 per pupil, reduced from our usual £6.00."

"MoneyLIVE is only available once a month," Rob added, "so get booked in soon. We are now taking booking for the whole academic year."

Full MoneyLIVE details are available here.


Santa's Safety Grotto

Safeside at Handsworth (Handsworth Fire Station) would like to invite you to visit Santa’s Safety Grotto.
Santa will be arriving on Monday 1st December and will be with us until Friday 5th December. Wednesday 3rd December will be dedicated to SEN visits only.
The grotto will be open from 10.00 to 12.00 and 1.00 – 2.30.
We will be holding 30 minute tours between these times, if you would like to attend please contact our Elf & Safety Co-ordinator Shirley on the number below to arrange your visit.
Santa is on a tight schedule and you must arrive on time. Unfortunately, if you are late, he may be busy with other visitors and so his elves will have to re-arrange your visit for another day.
He can accommodate groups of 15-25 children with an age range between 3 & 6 years, would prefer that the younger children attend for the morning visits. (Please try to keep the groups to similar ages, i.e. all 3 year olds/ all 6 year olds.)
Parents/Carers are welcome to attend with their children and will have an opportunity to take pictures during the visit.
Please book by Friday 21st November 2014.
All bookings are to be made via the details below.
Shirley Brampton
Elf and Safety Co-ordinator
Safeside at Handsworth
Handsworth Community Fire Station
Rookery Road
B21 9QU
Tel: 0121 380 7566

Safer travel skills


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.


Revised Junior Citizen times


Occassionally, schools are under pressure to leave earlier than 3.15pm in order to get back to school. This is unfortunate because all our programmes are tightly scheduled and it is problematic to cut any short as other tours and workshops are also affected. We would encourage schools to see this as a full day out and inform parents of a late finish accordingly. However, we always take feedback on board, and so to minimise problems we will be working to the following revised timings for Junior Citizen (Years 5/6) tours from September, for both workshops and the tour itself. This should allow schools to leave the centre before 3pm, but it does rely on schools getting here promptly before 9.30am.

AM Session 

09.30am school arrival (for 09:45 start)

12:00am Finish

12:00-12:30 Lunch

PM Session

12:30 start

14:45 Finish

If you have any questions please do ask as part of the booking process, and we welcome your feedback on this change.


New downloadable info


We've updated all our programme pages with a downloadable pdf sheet so that you can print or email these to distribute to colleagues when considering or planning a trip.

These single pages are part of our new brochure which will be distrubuted to all West Midlands schools in early September.


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.

Inspire our team


Safeside Education Development Officer - 1 year contract

We are looking for an enthusiastic, innovative and adaptable person to further develop our education programmes. You will inspire our team and, working with them, further develop and improve visitor learning at our two safety centres in Birmingham but serving the whole West Midlands.

We deliver interactive and experiential safety and citizenship education to 15,000 visitors a year in our full size realistic street scene at Eastside (next to Fire Service HQ) and at our fire safety centre attached to Handsworth Fire Station. The largest group of visitors are from primary schools but we also run programmes for parents, carers, secondary schools, young people and for those with special needs of all ages.

With Qualified Teacher Status and a background in schools or youth work, you will review, improve and develop existing programme content, liaising with external partners and experts to ensure that it remains up to date, accurate and relevant. Your background in education will enable you to ensure we use the most effective teaching techniques. You’ll be skilled at assessing visitor learning and customer feedback, and use this to inform further improvement.

A key part of the role will be to enthuse, monitor, mentor and train our team of 25 sessional Presenters and 80 volunteer primary school visitor guides. These are the most important people at Safeside as they deliver learning to our visitors. You will also be required to manage and support visits at both centres as part of the wider team.

For a full job description and application forms see our jobs page. This website also includes full details of our educational approach. Information about all our programmes can be found under the Eastside and Handsworth sections.

For an informal chat about the role please contact Rob Hattersley, Safeside Manager, on 0121-380-6432 or email

Closing date: 18th August 2014. Interviews 2nd September.


Safer Cycling Streets


A survey of more than 1,000 young people published by Brake and insurer RSA Group has revealed teen angst about taking to two wheels

After millions of fans descended on Yorkshire to watch the world's cycling stars, Brake and RSA warned that action is needed from national and local government across the UK to make cycling safer, to enable the next generation to take it up and enjoy the benefits without fearing for their safety.

The Brake and RSA survey, carried out as part of a UK-wide project for safer streets for teens, finds:

  • Only one in 11 (9%) teens cycle weekly or more, while one in four (23%) never cycle
  • Four in 10 (42%) would like to be able to start cycling or cycle more
  • Of those, 39% say lack of safe routes is a factor preventing them
  • 46% say their parents would worry about them cycling
  • 32% say they would feel nervous cycling on local roads

Brake say that introducing 20mph limits in towns and cities alongside more traffic free cycling and walking routes and improvements to road design would help deliver a legacy of healthy, active, green communities where everyone can cycle and walk without being endangered. They are also calling on drivers everywhere to help make roads safer for cycling, by slowing down to 20 in built up areas, taking bends and junctions cautiously, giving space to cyclists and looking out for people on bike and foot.

Safeside Manager Rob Hattersley said: "Brake are absolutely right. At Safeside, we teach children about the benefits of cycling and about how to stay safe, but then when children do venture out the world adults have designed in urban areas, is often extremely dangerous for them. It doesn't have to be like this."

Birmingham City Council is currently consulting on plans for more 20mph limits in the Birmingham East area until 8th August. You can see and comment on the plans here.

Full details of the survey from Brake can be viewed here.


Improve your writing by visiting Safeside


A study backed by the Education Endowment Foundation has found that giving pupils "memorable experiences" to write about can improve their literacy skills by the equivalent of nine months.

A survey of more than 800 primary and secondary school pupils showed that learning outside the classroom experiences including educational visits to zoos, farms and county parks, exploring caves or talks with war veterans can be utilised to improve pupils’ writing standards by nine months on average – and 18 months for disadvantaged pupils on free school meals.

Education Endowment Fund chief executive Kevan Collins said “It’s rare to find schemes that demonstrate such a large impact when they are rigorously tested. That’s why we are excited about the potential this project could have in helping struggling students significantly improve their writing skills.”

Safeside Manager and teacher Rob Hattersley said: "A visit to Safeside provides a range of exciting and stimulating opportunities for meaningful writing, including reports, arguments, presentations and marketing materials to promote safer and healthier lifestyles."

News from Learning Outside the Classroom of which Safeside is a member.


Safety Shed


Many thanks to Phil from Beast Sheds in Birmingham for the kind provision and install, free of charge, of our new garden shed. This is part of a new garden safety scenario we are creating for use mainly on our Safestart programme for the parents and carers of the under fives. The scenario should be completed over the summer.

Safestart is curently free of charge due to generous funding from Nationwide Building Society. For more information and to book, please visit the Safestart page.


KS3 Lifeskills now only £1pp


Due to generous support from Network Rail, we are able to offer a reduced price per pupil in 2014/15 of only £1 on Lifeskills, our KS3 programme, down from £6.

Delivered in partnership with Birmingham School of Acting, visitors experience some powerful acted scenarios and workshop style discussions in the shop, alleyway, bus and court room, challenging them to think about some crucial issues around personal safety and responsibility and covering significant sections of the PSHE curriculum.

To find out more and to book, visit Lifeskills.



CSI at Safeside

CSI – Crime Scene Investigators is a programme for young people ages from 11 – 25 years old.
The programme involves classroom activity as well as operational team work. The session includes a fatal fire report and the young people using problem solving skills to find out why the person acted in the manner in which they did. They will be working in teams to understand the importance of fire safety in the home.
The session continues into the operational field of search and rescue. This will provide an experiential learning experience of how our firefighters search a building and rescue our training aid. They will then understand the importance of communicating as a team.  The young people will go onto produce a plan of the building and show where they found the training aid, but this is all carried out in the dark.
The session runs for 2.5 hours £6 per session per person or two sessions can be booked for £10 per person; this would be a whole day session with a maximum number pf 14.
Further information and a booking form can be found here.

Fire Safety Aware

Fire Safety Aware is a programme for young people ages from 11 – 25 years old. The programme involves classroom activity as well as operational team work.
The session includes carrying out a home safety check on our Safeside house. This will provide young people with the knowledge to look for dangers in their own homes and take measures to ensure their safety.
Visitors will also learn about the chemistry of fire and its impact on their environment, and about impact on their own health and wellbeing.
Once they have understood the impacts of fire they will then work as a team using our equipment especially for young people to carry out a fire service operational drill.
The session runs for 2.5 hours.
The cost is £6 per session per person. If you book two sessions the whole day is only £10. Maximum number of visitors is currently 14.

Parenting in the Digital Age

The Parenting in the Digital Age training course is coming to Birmingham on 7th July. The course, PitDA for short, is for professionals working with parents to give them the information they need about internet safety. It’s the UK’s first evidence based parenting programme designed to give parents the confidence to take their offline parenting skills online and practitioners the tools they need to reach parents.


Date: Monday, 7 July
Venue: Safeside at Eastside
Place: 101 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham B7 4HW
Time: 10am – 4pm

Find out more

If you are a teacher, eSafety professional, police officer, social worker or professional working with parents in the digital world and want to learn more about the programme, contact Catherine at


To book your place for training to be a Parenting in the Digital Age Facilitator, contact Jemma at More information can be found on our website: note that ParentZone are organising bookings for this event and not Safeside.

Join the team


We are recruiting up to six additional Presenters to join our existing team, teaching safety and citizenship to both young people and adults in an exciting and realistic setting. These roles include leading interactive sessions at our two Safeside venues in Birmingham and in schools across the West Midlands.

If you think you would be an engaging and effective Presenter and the flexible nature of the work would suit your situation, we would be pleased to hear from you. Full details and an application form can be found at The closing date is 23rd May.


In safe hands

A husband and wife have guided 1,000 tours of West Midlands Fire Service’s Safeside centre in Birmingham, delivering vital safety messages to around 5,000 children between them.
Cllr John Edwards, Chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA), congratulated Sheila and Harry Dennick with a surprise presentation at the end of their milestone 1,000th tour, which today involved pupils from Dorridge Junior School.
The couple, who live in Hockley, have been volunteering since Safeside ran its first trial visits in 2008. Their combined tour tally means that they have led approximately 2,500 children each around the innovative safety centre - that’s ten per cent of all the visitors since Safeside opened.
“This is a phenomenal volunteering achievement by Harry and Sheila," said Rob Hattersley, Safeside Manager. "Both of them are an inspiration to our other guides, especially our younger ones, and are always cheerful, positive and incredibly helpful. Most importantly, their volunteering has had a huge positive impact on the lives of thousands of children. We need more Harry and Sheilas at Safeside, and would love to hear from anyone else interested in supporting our work.”
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.  
Councillor Edwards added: “People like Sheila and Harry, who give up their time to help us make the West Midlands safer, make a huge difference to people’s lives. They are an outstanding example of volunteering in action. We hope they inspire many others to follow in their footsteps. They show how rewarding it is to know that you have helped children to stay safe, become more independent and ready for life.”
Harry worked as Head of Security at the former WMFS HQ on Lancaster Circus in Birmingham, from 1982 to 2007. He said: “We love Safeside because it's great to know we are helping children to stay safe and be aware themselves of possible dangers.”
Sheila added: "Safeside is like a family. The staff and volunteers are very helpful and thoughtful, and it’s wonderful to know that we’re all working together to help keep our visitors safe in everyday life.”

Fire Crew on shout

Year 4 pupils from Fairway Primary School spent a morning at Safeside Handsworth as fire fighters. The new Safeside Fire Crew programme involves a Home Safety Check (HFS), a simulated Road Traffic Collision (RTC), and a tour of the adjacent Handsworth Fire Station - which includes an emergency route planning activity.
The class are organised into three Watches at the start of the two hour programme and tour the three areas of the centre. The activities end with a quiz.
Class teacher Kathy Steventon told staff that the children had really enjoyed the programme and learnt lots about both safety and the work of the fire service. The school will be bringing a second class next week.
Full details about Fire Crew are available here and a version of the programme is available for Key Stages 2 and 3.

Travel Workshop for Teachers

Safe and sustainable travel is high on the agenda for many primary schools. With numerous exciting initiatives taking place to encourage young people to walk or cycle to school, it is essential that we also continue to provide effective road safety education. To support Birmingham primary schools with safe and sustainable travel education Birmingham City Council’s Smarter Choices Team would like to invite a member of your staff to attend our forth-coming free staff development session (open to staff from Birmingham primary schools only):
Date: Wednesday 12 March
Time: 9am – 1pm
Location: Safeside at Eastside, 101 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW
If you would like a member of your staff to attend this FREE session please book your place by emailing us with the name and contact details of the attendee by Friday 7 March. Email:, tel: 0121 303 7683

Hair straighteners and mugs top child burns list

The BBC reports that hair straighteners and hot mugs are the leading causes of childhood scalds and burns, and one-year-olds are at greatest risk. Read the full article here.


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