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The British Red Cross has acquired a new welfare support vehicle which will be used to support those across the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service area.

The new vehicle will be used in conjunction with another to make a fleet of two, the second of which was purchased during the partnership’s 20th anniversary by HFR Solutions. The long wheel-based van was individually designed to maximise storage space and now even includes pet food and dog leads.

This purpose-built vehicle is now hailed by the British Red Cross nationally as the favoured size and layout of Emergency Support Service vehicles and two have recently been purchased for other areas of the country including Hampshire, with more planned for 2020.

As part of HFRS’s partnership with the British Red Cross, the charity helps to provide incident care to those in crisis after a fire or flood across the Humber region.

The partnership began in 1994, when Dee Phillips and a team of volunteers began the initial Red Cross service with just a few bare essentials and blankets following a severe house fire in the Humberside area.

Following their first call-out in 1994, a team of two volunteers have been on-call continuously for over 9,000 days and nights.

Following years of fundraising by the British Red Cross and many local Firefighters, a campervan was purchased in 2003 which provided warmth and comfort at the roadside outside the affected property. It soon became a feature at many serious house fires and provided somewhere to get the kettle on and start the road back to normality – a little safe haven when chaos and crisis is going on outside.

Local Team Leader Dee Phillips said: “The most important thing to the people concerned after a fire becomes our number one priority. We respect the wishes of those affected and simply work with them to make some order out of the chaos.

“We can ring relatives for those affected, give advice on how to begin an insurance claim or simply be a sympathetic ear to listen. Those who have lost possessions or beloved animals often need the emotional support more than the vast array of practical things like clothing and toiletries.”

The team play an important role offering humanitarian assistance to those who may have suffered trauma from a fire or flood and help people deal with emotions associated with the loss of their home or belongings.

Other services that the Red Cross provide include immediate temporary shelter, emotional support, practical assistance, clothing, toiletries and refreshments, shower / washing and toilet facilities, the use of telephone camera to assist with insurance claims, signposting to other agencies, help in securing temporary accommodation, advice on care / replacement of damaged property, and multilingual phrasebook.

More volunteers are desperately needed to provide this wonderful service. Training, workwear and support are provided as standard, the great feeling of having assisted people when they need it most comes later.