The Fire Fighters Charity Lifeline


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The Fire Fighters Charity

Matt Allwright makes an appeal on behalf of The Fire Fighters Charity, who provide vital support for the fire and rescue community and their families.


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NEWS REPORT: '120 firefighters are at the scene at the moment...

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'The Fire Brigade says the blaze...'

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Every 30 seconds in the UK,

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firefighters are called to an incident,

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risking their lives for us.

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In the line of duty,

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no-one can doubt the courage and professionalism of the men and women

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in the Fire Service, often in the most dangerous of circumstances.

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Every day they're ready to answer our call when we need them the most.

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But when they need help, who can they turn to?

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Ever since she was a girl,

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Debbie Young dreamt of joining the Fire Service.

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I went on work experience when I was 14 to my local fire station

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and I just thought this was for me.

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Just five years later, Debbie was a firefighter.

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My family and friends came along to my pass-out parade

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and that was just the best day.

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In July 2010, Debbie was fighting a fire at a cafe.

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Out the corner of my eye, I noticed something was coming towards me,

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so instinctively I put my arm up to protect myself and a television came

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off the wall and landed on top of me. It was immediate pain

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in my shoulder and into my neck.

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Debbie had sustained a serious injury to her arm.

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It was weeks before she could return to work,

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but not as a fully operational firefighter.

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I was still experiencing quite a lot of pain in my shoulder.

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The doctors were saying that it would just get better

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and it obviously wasn't.

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I just didn't know what to do, where to go or who could help me.

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All I could see was I wasn't going to be a firefighter again.

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Debbie faced the prospect

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of having to give up everything she had worked so hard for.

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When firefighters like Debbie are injured

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they deserve the kind of care they so often provide for us.

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That's where the Fire Fighters Charity helps.

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For nearly 70 years, they have provided vital support

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for the fire and rescue community and their families.

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In 1995, firefighter Steve Jeffrey was involved in a traffic collision

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whist responding to an incident.

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Trapped in his vehicle, he suffered multiple broken bones.

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But after almost a year off work, he was able to return to his watch.

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Sadly, this wasn't the end of his ordeal.

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I just needed to get back to work,

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I had my responsibilities, I had children to look after. Maybe by

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getting back to work, getting back to normality, part of me could say,

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well, nothing really happened.

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Steve settled back into work. But 16 years later,

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whilst watching a news report about a fire crew,

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events of that night would come back to haunt him.

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I remember very vividly waking up with images of the crash

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I had been involved in.

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That image continued to reoccur, always the same -

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me trapped in a fire engine. I would be getting mood swings.

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I would become very short-tempered with people.

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These were worrying thoughts because I didn't know what they were.

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Unknown to Steve,

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he was suffering from Delayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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It not only affected me,

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but it was having direct effects on my loved ones, family, close friends,

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work colleagues. They were black times, bad times...awful.

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Fortunately, there was a charity close at hand to help.

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The Fire Fighters Charity has three centres across the UK that offer

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a wide range of support programmes. They include physical rehabilitation

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and recuperation for both serving and retired members

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of the fire and rescue community.

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Andrew Waterfield is the Operations Manager at Jubilee House in Penrith,

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just one of the charity's rehabilitation centres.

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At Jubilee we have a mixture of physiotherapists,

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exercise therapists, nurses. We can look after up to 40 people a week

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and they stay for normally around two weeks and we can tailor

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their programme to their specific needs.

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Group work provides support and encouragement.

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They will be working with colleagues and they find that camaraderie

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really helps them in the rehab programme. And it can help them feel

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they're not alone, there are others experiencing

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what they're experiencing.

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Each year, the charity's centres help nearly 5,000 members

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of the fire and rescue community.

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Our beneficiaries will have different goals when they come here,

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for many it's important to get fit and well and back on the watch as

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soon as possible. Others have long-term conditions.

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Whatever their goals are, we're there to help them.

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The charity also provides a variety of support services, giving guidance

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and advice on a wide range of issues as well as having a nationwide

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network of professional staff and trained volunteers available to help

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locally, whenever and wherever they're needed.

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The charity gave hope to Debbie, assessing her injury and identifying

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the cause of her pain.

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To have them say it was definitely more than soft-tissue damage

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and I would need surgery, it was such a relief for me, that, for once

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someone was helping me. Somebody wanted me to get better.

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After a successful operation,

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Debbie returned to the charity for further treatment.

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I managed to do some work-related tests, I was back lifting ladders,

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dragging dummies around, all the things that I did as a firefighter

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in training and that was the first moment that I really realised

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I was going to get back to doing the job I love again.

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Last year, Debbie returned to her watch

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and resumed full operational duties.

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I wanted to be out there, I wanted to be helping people again

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and it was the Fire Fighters Charity that enabled me to do that.

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When Steve's condition became too much

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he turned to the Fire Fighters Charity.

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I was asked if I wanted to speak to one of the psychotherapists,

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a young lady by the name of Annie, and it was after having a couple of

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sessions with her that the underlying emotional disruptions

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in my life actually came to a head.

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The team identified Steve was suffering from

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Delayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and advised him

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where he could seek help.

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I can't thank her enough, she has been absolutely amazing.

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Clearly what happened to me 16 years after that collision unlocked all

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the emotions I clearly hadn't dealt with.

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And if it hadn't been for Annie, then those emotions

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may well have just spiralled out of control.

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After such a distressing period of his life, Steve is back at work.

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Did I ever need the Fire Fighters Charity?

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I find it difficult to put into words. It's obviously a very

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long road to recovery, but I think I'm in a position, with the help

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of the charity, my own service, family, colleagues, I believe

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I'm in a position now where I can cope.

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Sometimes the scars of firefighting aren't just physical.

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Often the deepest problems are those you can't see.

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So this is where you can help.

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Your donation will help the Fire Fighters Charity

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provide an even greater range of services

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and vital psychological support.

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Please go to the website - bbc.co.uk/lifeline

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where you can make a donation.

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If you don't have access to the internet, then call 0800 011 011.

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And if you can't get through, please, please keep trying.

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You can also donate £10 by texting DONATE to 70121.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to the Fire Fighters Charity.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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Or if you'd like to post a donation, please make your cheque payable to

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the Fire Fighters Charity and send it to -

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Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing the Fire Fighters Charity on the back of the envelope.

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Remember, if you're a UK taxpayer, the charity can collect gift aid

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on your donation, worth another 25%. Just send in a note, to say you want

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your donation to be subject to gift aid,

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and include the date, your full name and address.

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Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Presenter Matt Allwright makes an appeal on behalf of The Fire Fighters Charity, a charity who provide vital support for the fire and rescue community and their families.

The film features fire fighter Debbie Young, who suffered a career-threatening injury whilst responding to a fire at a cafe. After months of treatment, Debbie was still no nearer to returning to full operational duties; she feared she would have to give up the job she loved. Fortunately Debbie was able to attend one of the charity's rehabilitation centres, where she received specialist treatment for her injury, and last year she returned to work fully recovered.