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Fire Service calls on young people to 'think twice' before getting caught up in social media trends

MERSEYSIDE Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) is urging young people to think about the consequences of getting caught up in social media trends after 18 children had to be cut free from swings across Merseyside in the last 2 months.

The warning comes following a spike in children and teenagers finding themselves stuck in baby and infant swings in playgrounds and parks.

Since the beginning of April, fire crews have responded to 18 incidents involving people trapped in swings. 14 of these incidents took place in May alone.

It is believed the incidents are linked to a challenge on video sharing app TikTok. Fire services across the UK spoke out last year about the number of 999 calls they received to assist people in similar situations, with the craze now seeming to have reached Merseyside.

The majority of the incidents attended by MFRS involved young people between the ages of 11 and 15. Of these incidents, 11 took place in Knowsley, 4 of which were in Webster Park and 3 in Memorial Park in Kirkby. 2 incidents took place in Sefton, Wirral and Liverpool, and 1 in St Helens.

Some of the incidents have seen crews able to release the youngsters without the need for tools, but others have led to the complete dismantling of the swings, rendering them unusable to other members of the local community.

Thankfully no 1 was injured as a result of these incidents, but MFRS is calling on teenagers to think twice about taking part in such challenges or dares.

Ben Ryder, Area Manager for Operational Response at MFRS, said:- "We attend all kinds of different incidents with people needing our assistance from a whole host of situations. We are built to help, it's in our nature, but these kind of incidents are completely avoidable, unnecessary and cause a huge expense to Local Authorities."

A Knowsley Council spokesperson said:- "Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service provide a crucial service to our communities and it's unacceptable that a small number of people are wasting their valuable time in this way. I would encourage parents to speak to their children and explain the consequences of this behaviour. I would also say to our young people that while we welcome you to use our parks and green spaces please don't participate in behaviour that puts yourself and others at risk."

AM Ryder added:- "We would urge young people to think twice before trying to imitate the latest dare or challenge they have seen online. It might seem like a bit of fun and it might increase your following online, but is it worth it? You could be injured as a result, it causes damage to playgrounds that have to be cut apart to free you, leaving them unusable by other members of the community who want to enjoy these facilities in a responsible way. We are lucky to have free and easy access to our parks and playgrounds; don't ruin it for everyone else. Incidents like this tie up already stretched fire service resources, diverting crews away from more serious, potentially life threatening incidents. Every single incident our crews attend takes time to deal with. Every minute counts when someone's life is at risk; remember, we can't be in 2 places at once."

Local System Mismanagement

CARE England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care, has called for lessons to be learned from the care hotel initiative deployed during the Covid19 Pandemic.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:- "Care England appreciates that the pandemic gave rise to an unprecedented set of challenges for our health and care services. The pressures of Covid19 brought the NHS to breaking point, and with Hospitals nearing full capacity local systems were forced to resort to alternative locations to meet demand for care. However, the 'Care Hotel' initiative represented mismanagement of public funds on a scale that is wholly unacceptable. News that a Norfolk 'care hotel' cost £500k to treat just 36 people represents an incredible mismanagement of funds. It also emphasises the lack of capacity planning across the NHS and social care sectors, local health and social care economies should be ensuring that there is enough community provision to meet demand."

Norfolk and Waveney CCG pursued a 3 month pilot scheme in early 2022, to alleviate pressure on the NHS. The solution was to send 36 care recipients for an average of 16 weeks, to a hotel and to transform it into a 'Care Hotel.' Vast sums were inappropriately spent, costing taxpayers £15,555 per care recipient.

Martin Green continues:- "Local independent adult social care services have consistently demonstrated that they are able to offer taxpayers value for money. These providers empower those in need of care, and their families, to make meaningful choices so that they receive the right care across a variety of services including care homes, home care and supported living services. They had the capabilities and capacity to care for these individuals, and had they been utilised it would have saved the public from these significant costs. As a means of learning lessons, Care England would ask for assurances from the Government that the care sector will be considered and involved in future ICS planning as to avoid expensive and inefficient initiatives."

Belong co-founder awarded MBE in Queen's Honours

ONE of the founders of local state of the art care village operator Belong, which has a location under construction on Oxford Road, has been awarded an order of the Most Excellent British Empire in the Queen's birthday honours for services to dementia care.

Tracy Paine was awarded the MBE for her role in revolutionising dementia care in the UK, pioneering the care village model which has transformed the quality of life for thousands of older people over the past decade and helped challenge more institutional, task-oriented approaches to care.

As then Operations Director, Tracy was part of the Senior Management team which launched the 1st Belong village, in Macclesfield, in 2007. Alongside former Chief Executive Nick Dykes and Finance Director Tracey Stakes, she went on to transition the not-for-profit organisation's provision from operating traditional care homes to establishing 7 villages across the North West, as well as dementia specialist home care and day care services.

Commenting on her award, Tracy said:- "I am so very honoured to have been awarded an MBE in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year. My career in nursing has been the most exciting journey over 42 years and in particular I would like to thank the many colleagues and partners who have supported me over the years, particularly as a Director of Belong. I'm incredibly proud of what we achieved as a team, particularly in redesigning the built environment to world class standards, and provisioning the very best in dementia care through the household model and the village community."

Passionate about innovation, Tracy was awarded a Winston Churchill research fellowship in 2016, enabling her to visit innovative care facilities overseas and impart her findings in the UK. Nearly 100 organisations visit Belong each year and its 'household' model has been widely adopted elsewhere.  
She worked tirelessly for the organisation until standing down from her post as Deputy Chief Executive last summer. She is a trustee for the End of life Partnership, NAPA (the National Association for the Provision of Activities) and the healthcare tech start up, Decently.

Belong's Chief Finance Officer Chris Hughes, who worked with Tracy for much of her career with Belong, said:- "Tracy always put the needs of the person with the dementia front and centre in everything we did as an organisation and her dedication and passion was an inspiration to many. We are absolutely delighted that her contribution to the sector has been recognised in this way."

Belong also featured in the commemoration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee when it was chosen to feature in the official publication of Her Majesty The Queen: The Official Platinum Jubilee Pageant Album, which launched as part of the weekend's celebrations and profiles 70 outstanding organisations that have positively impacted life in the UK over the past 7 decades.


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