Gloucestershire Skillszone

March 2012

Gloucestershire Skillszone is an interactive safety centre designed to educate the community about safety.  

Dave Norman, the gregarious Project Manager for Skillszone is the perfect advertisement for partnership working and how best to work together to promote community safety and prevent child accidents.

Working for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Dave has worked with the Safety Centre Alliance and the local PCT alongside many other supportive partners in developing the brand new centre.

Dave’s job is to steer and deliver the new safety centre in Gloucester and I spoke to him to ask him how the project came together and how the centre aims to build on the success of Gloucester’s strong community safety ethos.

New fire station and safety centre

The new safety centre came about as the Fire Service planned to move some of their existing fire stations so that they could respond more quickly and effectively to calls and fulfil the new legislative focus of the Fire Service which was around protecting people as well as responding to emergencies.

It was decided that a new safety centre would be delivered alongside the new fire station which would fulfil the community element of the project.

Dave maintains that key to the success of the project was working with successful up-and-running projects such as Safeside run by the West Midlands Fire Service well as the Safety Centre Alliance (SCA) – a network of existing safety centres who offered support and advice to areas setting up a new centre.

Serving a need in the community

The safety centre aims to educate children about safety by creating real-life scenarios at the centre around things like road safety and street crime.

As well as children being a key target group for the centre, knowledge about Gloucestershire’s local community where 25% of people are over 65 and 17% are over 75, proved to Dave that older people as well as other vulnerable groups like disabled people could benefit from the knowledge and learning that the centre could offer.

The safety centre will benefit the whole community.

Working in partnership

I asked Dave to tell me about any challenges he faced when working with other partners and agencies and he said there were none! He said it was a huge benefit that Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service is located within the council rather than the combined fire authority as this made it easier to talk to the different teams within the council who dealt with community issues such as the community adult care team and children and young people teams.

Making the Link users tell us they can sometimes find it difficult to gather the data and information to either set up a new project or to evaluate how they might measure the success of their project.

Did Dave experience any of these issues? Again, Dave is brimming with positivity. Working with Safeside, which opened in 2009, was hugely beneficial as they had done a lot of groundwork and research for their centre which was really useful.

As well, working with NHS Gloucestershire on the information they’d gathered as part of their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) was key to the project, combined with information from the MAIDEN database, Gloucestershire's database on its local community.

When gathering information from the JSNA and Maiden, Dave aimed to use the information to help meet the following objectives:

  1. Reduce injuries and fatalities for 0-15 year-olds
  2. Reduce A&E admissions for the 65+ age group; and
  3. Develop their work with vulnerable adult groups

All in all, Dave and colleagues spent two years doing the groundwork for the centre: visiting other centres, talking to partners and doing the research into the evidence of reduced hospital admissions that can be attributed to safety centres.

Dave stresses that the Safety Centre Alliance was crucial in contributing to the work of the project and is a really good example of an effective safety partnership.

Local support

Dave recently met Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester who was particularly impressed with the centre and plans to recommend the setting up of a cross-party group on national community safety by working with the SCA.

Launching the safety centre

The project officially launched in June 2011 and the centre opened to the public in September 2012.

Useful links


Video 'flythrough' of the new centre

Updated February 2014