Norfolk's Chief Fire Officer and a group of fire cadets will sleep rough for a night to learn first hand what it is like to be homeless.
Nigel Williams and other senior fire officers will join the Wymondham Fire Cadets outside The Forum in Norwich on Thursday November 1. The group will spend the evening learning about homelessness, helping at a Salvation Army soup kitchen and then sleep outside overnight.
The event will start at Bishopbridge House, a hostel managed by St Martin’s Housing Trust in Norwich at 2pm when the cadets will donate ten ‘Street Survival Packs’. The packs have been designed by the cadets to provide a homeless person with basic survival equipment to support them during what will hopefully be a very short time on the street.
The sleep out has been organised by Group Manager Richard Herrell to help teach the 11 fire cadets more about homelessness outside the classroom.
Group Manager Herrell said: “We have learnt a lot about homeless people from colleagues at St Martin’s Housing Trust. The project has enabled us to see the challenges homeless people face from many different perspectives. This will help our cadets to develop their life skills. Norfolk Fire and Rescue will also develop as a consequence of this work. We will soon be delivering some training to the Trust to assist them in identifying the hidden fire hazards in the areas homeless people might find themselves.
Chief Fire Officer Nigel Williams said: “We often think of those who are most vulnerable needing to be safer in their homes, but what if you don’t have a home? Our Fire Cadets have developed this idea to help improve the safety of homeless people, I am therefore delighted to take part, first hand, in supporting their initiative.”
Nigel Dixon, Cabinet Member for Community Protection, said:"This is a hugely worthwhile initiative and something I fully support. For the cadets to learn about homelessness at a fire station is helpful but to get out and sample the problems people face on a nightly basis will, I am sure, be an experience that will remain with them for a long time."
Derek Player, from St Martin's Housing Trust: “We’re delighted to link up with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and to get their specialist input to the risk issues surrounding rough sleeping. We also hope the Chief Fire Officer and the cadets have a good sleep-out. If properly supervised young people can learn a lot from such an experience”.