Olive Branch: Partnership working to improve support and protection for our communities

In March 2015, following strong evidence drawn between fire deaths and ‘hoarding’ activity, Wendy Coleman, Community Fire Safety Advisor and Safeguarding Manager, led a project looking into a strategic approach to ‘hoarding’ and how we deal with it in relation to fire safety in the home environment.

Working with a multi-agency working group of more than 40 organisations, Wendy gathered expertise and advice to produce a model for dealing with hoarding and in May 2016 published, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Multi-agency Protocol for Working with People who display Hoarding behaviour. This document now serves as a best practice model in dealing with hoarding activity. Leading on from this project however it became apparent, that even with a best practice model, much more needed to be done in order to identify and engage those people most at risk.

Olive Branch was launched in May 2016, adapted from recognised best practice first conceived in Staffordshire, as a means of educating all organisations and agencies working directly with vulnerable people in the community.  This includes Voluntary Sector organisations, Charities supporting vulnerable people and Care companies providing supported living amongst others. The programme involves delivering free of charge training on hazard identification and how these can be different depending on people’s individual circumstances and the nature of their vulnerability, eg: old age, disability or immobility or living alone. The trained individuals can then refer directly into the service where a vulnerable person is identified. The Service will take action on 100% of “Olive Branch Referrals” received. The first programme was delivered to the Red Cross in Peterborough, where referrals have already been made by volunteer workers.

Kimberley Pilgrim, Service Coordinator, Support and Resettlement at Home (SARAH) from Red Cross said,

“We’ll definitely be using the training to identify vulnerable clients to the Service and I really hope we can help make a difference as it’s a brilliant scheme – thank you very much to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue for providing the training.”

The Service has now begun work on delivering the Olive Branch programme to other organisations throughout the County such as MIND, Alzheimer’s Society and wider commercial care providers. 

Wendy Coleman, Community Fire Safety Advisor and Safeguarding Manager said,

“The opportunity to expand the programme partners, and therefore our reach and referral rates, will mean we consistently offer a comprehensive multi-agency assessment process giving us the opportunity to work differently in the best interests of those that need us most.

To gain greater buy-in for the project, I will be attending the Independent Care Providers Forum to further promote the work and to raise awareness with independent care providers of the responsibility they have to their clients and staff and the need there is for them to receive this training to improve buy-in and take up going forward.”

For more information on Olive Branch contact us at: firefire@cambsfire.gov.uk or on: 0800 917 9994.