A state-of-the-art interactive educational facility is due to open on the Wiltshire/Swindon border in 2018.
The new Safety Centre – which is being developed by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and, in the longer term, will be run by the established SafeWise charity – will be located on land owned by the Science Museum Group at Wroughton.
Aimed at people of all ages, the Centre is costing £4.4 million – £3.4 million of this has come from the Government’s Transformation fund, following a successful bid by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, with the Service investing the remaining £1 million.
Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said: “When we decided to combine our fire and rescue services in Dorset and Wiltshire, we knew that we wanted to strengthen our prevention agenda and expand the existing SafeWise provision in Bournemouth and Weymouth into Wiltshire. The Fire and Rescue Service is a champion of prevention; we have a strong reputation with our communities and partners, and people are willing to put their safety education in our hands.”
The new Safety Centre will join an existing network of 14 such facilities across the country, collectively educating some 120,000 people each year. It will be designed as a realistic life-size indoor village, with ‘zones’ including:
- FireWise – a full-size house showcasing the most common causes of accidents and fires;
- HealthWise – focusing on first aid, healthy eating, safe money handling and e-safety;
- RoadWise – realistic road safety scenarios for pedestrian, cycle, motorcycle and vehicles; and
- CrimeWise – interactive scenarios that will encourage visitors to consider the consequences of their actions.
The site will also have a community café, to offer work placement opportunities for young adults, and a series of flexible meeting rooms for partners and community groups to hire.
A stakeholder day was held at the National Self-Build Centre in Swindon in early May to allow a range of prospective partners, sponsors and trustees to find out more about the project and help to shape its development.
Workshops were held to determine the sorts of facilities that would benefit the core target age groups of under five–year-olds, Year Five students, Year Nine students, young drivers and over 65s.
Young people from Shaw Primary School and Lydiard Academy – both of which have used the SkillZone safety centre in Gloucester – supported the workshops and shared their experiences with other delegates.
Group Manager Kathy Collis, from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, is managing the development project. She said: “The enthusiasm shown by our stakeholders was brilliant, and there is a real buzz around bringing a Safety Centre into Wiltshire. We are now starting to scope the design of the site, taking the best ideas from existing Centres and also ensuring that any risks specific to our communities are covered.”
Once built, the Centre will be the third operating as part of the SafeWise charity, sitting alongside existing facilities in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Chief Executive Alison Shelton said: “We are very proud and excited to be bringing a new safety centre under the SafeWise wing, expanding the legacy which our loyal supporters founded and nurtured nearly 20 years ago. SafeWise has since cascaded through the generations, bringing interactive, life-sized and memorable safety education experiences to over 250,000 people in Dorset. I truly believe that the new centre at Wroughton will exceed all our expectations, touching the lives of people and families for miles around – and absolutely ‘Changing Lives, Saving Lives’.”
Opportunities exist to get involved in the Safety Centre as a commissioner, sponsor, trustee or delivery partner – if you would like to know more, or have any specific questions, comments or suggestions, please contact Kathy Collis on 07739 899289 or email email@example.com
More information can also be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/wiltshire-safety-centre