How the Fire Fighters Charity is helping UK’s service people

Guy Pedliham-3

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Ever since coming into existence, the Fire Fighters Charity has been assisting and aiding firefighters. Along with the frontmen, the charity’s services are also aimed towards employees of the Ministry of Defence Fire and Rescue Service, chaplains or faith leaders, and volunteers. 

Many of you will be eligible for the Fire Fighters Charity’s support – and it’s helping thousands of people just like you every year. The Fire Fighters Charity supports all UK fire and rescue service personnel, working and retired – as well as their spouses, partners, and dependants – with their health and wellbeing needs now and throughout their lives. 

With that in mind, we are now working with the Charity to share a few people’s stories of how they’ve been helped with their physical health, mental health and social wellbeing. Watch this space as IFSJ will focus on more real-life stories of firefighters that have benefitted from charity’s efforts. 

In this feature, we take a look at the life and career of Guy Pedliham, a station officer with London Fire Brigade, who was helped by The Fire Fighters Charity with both his physical and mental health on a number of occasions. 

Guy first visited Jubilee House in Cumbria, one of the Charity’s three residential centres, in 1997. “It was following an accident at work in 1996,” says Guy. “I fractured my vertebrae and had a large disc bulge after falling out of an appliance whilst dismounting it.” 

After speaking to the Fire Fighters Charity, Guy was offered a place at Jubilee House to help him regain some strength and movement in his back. 

“Before going there, in the two weeks building up to it, I actually felt quite anxious, partly because I didn’t know what to expect, partly because I tend to get anxious when I go away from home for any length of time anyway,” says Guy. 

“But when I got there, that was very quickly dispelled. The staff are fantastic, there’s just such a great atmosphere, they’re so friendly and approachable, always smiling – and that’s the whole of the staff, the therapy staff through to the housekeeping staff and the kitchen staff. 

“Then once you get into your groups and meet others, I very quickly adjusted to being there – to the point you don’t want to come home again! You’re mixing with people that are either firefighters, families or other personnel, so you all instantly have that bond. The banter is the same everywhere.” 

Guy remained in touch with the Fire Fighters Charity following his initial stay, receiving support in the years that followed, including a return to Jubilee House. 

“These visits make a huge difference,” says Guy. “I’m in my 60s now and I’ve been in the fire service for 33 years… without the help that I’ve had from The Fire Fighters Charity, I’m certain that wouldn’t be the case – I wouldn’t be an operational firefighter still now. 

“There’s not many people riding in the front of appliances in their 60s.” 

It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Guy realised the Fire Fighters Charity may be able to help him with his mental health too. He had been struggling following an incident at work for several years but had largely tried to move on without taking the time to come to terms with how he was feeling. 

“I spoke to our occupational health team in 2014, as I realised I’d begun really struggling with my mental health following a bombing incident in London several years before,” says Guy. 

“They suggested I get in touch with the Charity, and I was offered a place at Jubilee House again, as I felt so comfortable after my previous visits. There were talks and workshops as a group which were helpful. 

“The key thing for me is, I asked for help as soon as I felt I was getting to a point where I was at risk of not coping. 

“I think there’s a general tendency in the fire service not to do that, for people keep going until it does reach crisis, in a mistaken belief that it’s weak to say you have any sort of mental health issue, which is something I absolutely disagree with… 

“I think it’s a strength to realise you need help and to ask for help. I’d really recommend people at least pick up the phone and talk to someone in the first instance or speak to someone who’s received the Charity’s support.” 

Guy was later supported by the Charity in the years that followed that visit, as he continued to come to terms with struggles with his mental health – some of which went back years. 

He has continued to support the Charity through regular monthly donations since, having seen how much support it can offer, and he more recently received support both online and face-to-face following a neck injury at work. 

The Fire Fighters Charity recently launched My Fire Fighters Charity (MyFFC), a health, wellbeing and social space for the UK’s fire family, helping all its members to live healthier and happier through great content, easy access to support and a thriving online community. 

Available as an app or through your desktop computer, MyFFC features a huge and growing library of health and wellbeing information, as well as information on fundraising, a wealth of groups for members to join and a means to connect with friends and colleagues across the UK. 

“I’ve also downloaded MyFFC, The Fire Fighters Charity’s social space for the UK’s fire services community and tried some of the videos on there which have been great,” he adds. 

Guy now has an important message, following his own experiences, that he wants to pass on to anyone else who may feel they’re struggling with their mental health. 

He says: “I think primarily the key message is to reach out and talk, even before you reach out to the Fire Fighters Charity, talk to your workmates, family or friends… Don’t hesitate. The Charity is there, it’s helped me and, as I said earlier, I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m still doing without it.” 

If something is affecting your physical health, mental health or social wellbeing, let The Fire Fighters Charity help. Call its Support Line on 0800 389 8820 or make an enquiry online at  

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