Avon Fire and Rescue Service creates wellbeing spaces to support staff

Avon Fire and Rescue Service has opened five wellbeing spaces to support and improve staff mental health, providing spaces to unwind, reflect and relax.

Following the unprecedented period of COVID-19, and the various traumatic incidents that firefighters attend throughout their careers, the service believes that these wellbeing spaces are key for mental health.

To date, staff at Yate, Patchway, Southmead, Kingswood and Blagdon fire stations have designed their own wellbeing spaces, often in conjunction with local communities, and seven more spaces are planned. These spaces make the stations nicer places to work and demonstrate the positive links between green space, fresh air and mental wellbeing. The creative herb gardens, hanging baskets, planters, trees and fish ponds also give a boost to local biodiversity.

The majority of work has also been carried out by station staff and they have managed to source some materials and supplies at a discount or from generous donations from local suppliers and traders.

Building on this success, Avon FRS will be exploring further opportunities to plant trees and improve the air quality and ecology in and around our sites.

Leanne Wharton, Health & Wellbeing Advisor for AF&RS, said, “Having a wellbeing space not only helps with emotional wellbeing but our physical wellbeing too. Spending time outside in a relaxing space can reduce stress hormones, muscle tension and blood pressure as well as improving our mood.

“In the current climate, it is more important than ever to provide an opportunity for staff to unwind and connect outside of their usual workplace. It is fantastic to see the development of these spaces and I highly encourage other stations to take advantage of this opportunity to enhance wellbeing for staff.”

Avon FRS launched Trauma Risk Incident Management (TRiM) in 2018. This provides firefighters with information about the reactions they might experience after a traumatic incident. It can also involve discussing the incident itself, how it has impacted them and identifies any risk factors. The service has also employed a Health and Wellbeing Advisor to bring together all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. This is alongside the Lead Fitness Advisor who promotes physical wellbeing support, providing a holistic approach to staff.