Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is calling on the help of the county’s hair professionals to launch a cutting edge initiative - the UK’s first ‘Haircare Network’ which aims to support the fire service in keeping people safer in their homes.
It will see firefighters teaming up with hairdressers, both salon based and mobile, and barbers to offer a service that's a cut above. KFRS will support the hair professionals to offer their clients greater access to home safety advice along with their hair do’s.
KFRS Group Manager for Community Safety, Martin Skeet, said: "Hair professionals are perfectly placed to offer their clients that little extra care. They spend their working day talking to people of all ages across the community from the elderly to parents with very young children. We know older people, and those with mobility, eyesight, hearing or memory issues are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a fire in their homes.
“There’s a large social element to getting your hair done, so we believe this offers the perfect opportunity for clients to chat about the challenges they face, for example, managing at home as they get less mobile or making homes safer for new born babies. We are asking hairdressers to ask a few simple questions on our behalf, which will enable us to deliver free home safety visits where they are needed most.”
Between 1 October and 31 December 2015 KFRS firefighters, community safety staff and volunteers will be encouraging hair professionals to visit the fire service website to join the network.
The service is keen to encourage hair businesses with:
- older clients or those with disabilities
- clients with mobility or health issues
- clients who are about to have a baby or have children under five
Martin added: "Hairdressers and barbers may notice when their clients’ circumstances or lifestyles change and can offer help that could make a difference to the health and well-being of their clients.”
The development of the initiative coincides with a recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health which encourages professionals in the community, like firefighters and hairdressers to work together to help tackle growing social issues around health and lifestyle[i].
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health and Chair of the People in UK Public Health Government Advisory Group said: "The public health challenges we face are too insurmountable for the core public health workforce to tackle on their own. We believe there is a massive role for the “wider public health workforce” which includes anyone who has the opportunity or ability through their day to day work to improve the public’s health. The fire service and both hairdressers and barbers are an instrumental part of this wider workforce – both professions enjoy trusted relationships with the communities they serve.
"We are delighted to see the pioneering work of Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the Haircare Network initiative and it is exactly this type of wider workforce approach which could have huge potential to support the public’s health nationally.”
One of the first salons to join the ‘Haircare Network’ is Tapers Hairdressing in Larkfield’s Martin Square. Salon Manager, Jacqui Lewis explains why she signed up: “Sadly, I lost my nan in a house fire a few years ago, so this scheme is very important to me. We already enjoy a trusted relationship with our customers and are able to talk about lifestyle and health issues in a sensitive and non-judgemental way.
“Many of our clients won’t be aware of the free help and services available to them from KFRS. By joining the Haircare Network, we can explain the benefits of a free KFRS home safety visit and can really make a difference in helping our clients stay safer.”
If you are a hair professional you can get more information or sign up here or call us (free from most landlines).
Martin ended with final words of encouragement: “You could be cutting hair today and helping to save a life tomorrow as part of KFRS's Haircare Network – please join us.”
Notes to editors
Watch KFRS’s short video and hear Salon Manager, Jacqui Lewis explain the benefits of joining the Haircare Network and young mum, Georgina Sceal talk about feeling much safer since having a KFRS home safety visit
[i]https://www.rsph.org.uk/en/policy-and-projects/areas-of-work/wider-public-health-workforce/index.cfm - accessed 23 September 2015