Durham community scheme given £500k injection to tackle vulnerability

Kris Hopkins, local government minister, praised Durham Fire and Rescue's Safer Homes project for strengthening communities

Minister Kris Hopkins, centre at the Durham Fire service HQ
Minister Kris Hopkins, centre at the Durham Fire service HQ

A government minister was in Durham yesterday to announce a new £500,000 fund to tackle vulnerability.

Durham Fire and Rescue’s Safer Homes project will see the fire service working with police, Durham County Council and volunteers to help save upwards of £1m.

The scheme aims to work with the elderly, isolated and vulnerable to improve safety and feelings of safety across communities.

Kris Hopkins, local government minister, visited Durham fire HQ to launch the fund.

He said: “The best thing that comes out of the joint activity between councils and fire authorities, especially volunteers, is community cohesion.

“You can put lots of people in a room and have a chat but if you can deliver outcomes better for the people who respond you can develop a far greater bond.

“Loved ones, people that you care about, the community that you care about really respond extremely positively to these invitations.”

Minister Kris Hopkins, talks at the Durham Fire service HQ
Minister Kris Hopkins, talks at the Durham Fire service HQ
 

Mr Hopkins, a former leader of Bradford City Council, said investing the £500,000 would help save money.

Funds will be used for everything from giving people crime prevention advice, advice about healthier lifestyles, as well as referrals to special security and safety equipment providers which can help improve home safety and reduce potential danger around the home.

Susan Johnson, chief executive of County Durham Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We want people to feel safe and be safe in their homes.

“Practical advice combined with specialist safety and security equipment can be life-saving, particularly for those who are elderly, isolated or vulnerable.”

The scheme helped save £850,000 and saw a reduction in 466 fewer burglaries across County Durham and 66 fewer house fires.

Minister Kris Hopkins, talks to June Brown, from Bishop Auckland, and Ann Hazel Community Safety Officer, with the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue
Minister Kris Hopkins, talks to June Brown, from Bishop Auckland, and Ann Hazel Community Safety Officer, with the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue

Chief superintendent Ivan Wood, of Durham Police, said: “The total home safety initiative builds on work we are already doing to keep vulnerable people safe in their homes.

“Incidents of burglary within County Durham have fallen and this initiative aims to reduce the number of victims even further.”

The funds were granted as part of a £9m cash fund awarded to 33 different projects across the country.

Karl Brown’s mother June, from Bishop Auckland, is among the people to have benefited from an assigned worker.

Mr Brown, who works for haulage firm Eddie Stobart, said: “I’m her carer but I work away in the week.

“I find that I worry less because of the scheme, there are people to look after her and she’s got equipment to help her if she falls or is ill.”

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