Funds needed to start safety firm

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THREE former county employees are trying to rescue the life-saving service they worked for.

Mike Tozer, Nick Wade and Laura Bullard used to work for Homeshield Plus, a unique scheme started only 18 months ago by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

They and six others became officially redundant on Tuesday but while serving notice have set up a not-for-profit company called Suffolk Safety and Support, to carry on where Homeshield Plus left off. Now, they desperately need funding.

The idea of Homeshield Plus was to combine the fire service’s home fire safety checks with helping with welfare issues for the vulnerable. So, as well as installing smoke alarms, they might arrange for grab handles to be fitted, help people get grants they were entitled to and arrange assistance from other bodies.

Mr Tozer said: “These were the hidden vulnerable. They were often referred by word of mouth.

“In the past 15 or 16 months we carried out in the region of 4,000 visits. A high proportion were for fire safety checks, but there were a high number where the person was vulnerable.”

Mr Tozer said it was suggested volunteers do the work, but there would be a training and administration cost to that where Suffolk Safety and Support’s founders are already trained. He says three former colleagues want to join them if it takes off, and Suffolk Fire and Rescue has told them they can be based in a fire station to reduce running costs.

But he added: “The biggest problem is funding. If we had 200,000 people donate £1 each that would be sufficient for six to eight officers, vehicles and equipment for 12 months.”

Ironically, once they have start-up funding they automatically qualify for other grants. They have applied for Lottery cash, but that takes four months.

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