ECL partnership with fire service ensures safety of the sensory impaired

News / Mon 6th May 2024 at 07:21am

ECL, an Essex-based sensory support service has developed a formidable partnership with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to ensure its services are accessible to everyone with sight and/or hearing loss.

ECL’s Sensory Service, which supports people with sensory impairments to live independently, leads the Sensory Action Alliance, a network of organisations across Essex that work together to improve the lives of people with sensory loss.

A key member of the Sensory Action Alliance since 2020, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is sharing how its partnership with ECL has benefitted the organisation and the community it serves with the release of a film to encourage others to join.

Paul Pemberton, Impairment and Disability Officer, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “Quite often people miss people with hidden disabilities. There’s always an assumption that it’s somebody else’s job. As a public service provider, it’s vitally important within everything we do to make sure the Fire Service is accessible for everybody in the community. 

“Often those with sensory loss miss vital information about essential services available to them. By working with ECL, we were able to improve our awareness of sensory impairments, and this changed how we communicate with this section of our community. This has been a game changer as it has made it possible to deliver our services more equally across our communities.”

In addition to being a member of the alliance, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has undertaken a sensory audit with ECL Lived Experience Volunteers to learn how to improve its accessibility. Lived Experience Volunteers are members of the ECL team living with sensory loss. They assess organisations for existing barriers to accessibility and advise on improvements that can be made to all aspects of the business from buildings to services. 

Staff also participate in ECL’s sensory awareness training to gain insight into the causes of sensory loss and learn about the challenges people with sight and/or hearing loss face.


Paul said: “Thanks to ECL we’re all Sensory Champions! The level of understanding that the training has given us has improved not only the services we provide to the community but has also helped us as an employer. We now have Sensory Champions across the service that understand and recognise the barriers that exist for people with sensory loss.”

Paul describes the partnership as a beautiful relationship that means that the service can always call upon ECL for advice and guidance when needed. He said: “I would really encourage other organisations to join the Sensory Action Alliance and become Sensory Champions. By making small changes you will open the door to a wider part of our Essex community that before may not have seen you as their service.”

ECL’s Sensory Service supports people with sensory impairments through the provision of tailored rehabilitation support and sighted and communicator guides. It also offers personal assistant (PA) training and help accessing health appointments and helps people with sensory loss to access relevant guidance, information and advice. 

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service plays a key role in helping to ensure that individuals supported by ECL’s Sensory service are safe in their homes by providing safety checks and specialist alert equipment.

For more information about the Sensory Action Alliance and how to join, visit www.ecl.org

For more information about ECL’s Sensory Service visit www.ecl.org   

For more information about Essex County Fire and Rescue Service visit www.essex-fire.gov.uk 

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