Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service | Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service | Nottingham, UK
Diverse Company of the Year
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is a provider of emergency, education, prevention and business protection services to over 1.1 million people in the city and county. We are also an employer of 850 people.
Diversity of the workforce has traditionally been lacking and we work hard to improve our reputation as an employer of choice. The last ‘wholetime’ (full-time) firefighter recruitment campaign was our most successful yet with 18% BAME (the BAME population is approximately 11%), 29.5% women and 5% LGB people being successful out of a field of 599 applicants and 44 appointees.
The success of this campaign was built on the work of role model firefighters who attended and ran Firefighter Awareness Days, mentoring sessions and ‘Firefit’ classes. One of our firefighters, Laura Wilton, has been doing some amazing strength and fitness work with prospective candidates and is one of the reasons why this campaign was so successful in the appointment of women through the process. Please go to Laura’s twitter feed @firefitnotts to see some films she’s posted of the sessions.
NFRS also seconded a Firefighter, Sonny Roberts, to the OD and Inclusion Team for a year to assist with the positive action work for 2018’s firefighter recruitment campaign. Sonny was instrumental in running positive action events, networking across BAME communities and encouraging and mentoring people in to the role of firefighter. The WhatsApp group which Sonny set up was a fantastic tool for connecting applicants with one another and sharing information to assist them in advance of the process. The work that the role models did, but particularly Sonny and Laura, made a big difference to the diversity of the successful applicants.
The organisation met the Excellent Level of the Fire Service Equality Framework in December 2013 and, since then, has been in the top 100 of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index in 4 out of the last 5 years, demonstrating huge improvements in our commitment to becoming an LGBT+ friendly employer and service provider.
Our Dyslexia Champions act as points of contact on fire stations for people with dyslexia or for employees who feel like they just need some literacy support or advice. They are also trained to use Text Help - Read and Write Gold, which is a piece of assistive technology which we have made available for all of our employees. This enables employees to access this support discreetly without having to shout up if they don’t want or need to.
The Service recognises that mental health affects every one of its employees at some point in their life, whatever form that may take. The Service encourages everyone to be honest about how they are feeling. NFRS has a great range of services and interventions for employees experiencing mental ill health or anxiety issues. These include an Employee Assistance Programme which provides confidential information and counselling and Peer Support, which provides an informal system of non-clinical social support which enables an individual or group to explore and process areas of psychological/emotional concerns or distress in a safe and confidential environment. Our Occupational Health & Fitness Department also provides excellent well-being services to employees who have been injured, absent from work or require support with maintaining their fitness or their mental health.
NFRS also uses professional actors and ‘forum theatre’ to raise awareness and understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion issues. This training is received positively by our firefighters and support staff and puts them in situations where they have to have difficult conversations with an employee or member of the public – scenarios and themes covered include dementia, hoarding, post-natal depression, race, dyslexia, sexual orientation and age.
The Service also has an Employee Engagement Network (EEN) and Proud Friends Network. EEN is led by employees and is an opportunity for a diverse range of staff to lobby, challenge and support the organisation to continuously improve its employment and equality practices. Our Proud Friends network is largely connected via WhatsApp. They are a LGBT+ and ‘straight allies’ network which works to improve LGBT+ equality at work.
NFRS also hosts 2 canteens which are run by social enterprise Pulp Friction Kitchen. Pulp Friction is a Community Interest Company which supports people who have learning disabilities, learning difficulties and/or autism to develop social, independence and work-readiness skills.