People who help us

People who help us

In the UK, there are over eight million ‘999’ calls made every year? That’s approximately one every 4 seconds! And millions of other calls are made to the non-emergency police number, 101.

But it’s not just the police, fire and ambulance service that respond. Did you know you can also call mountain rescue, cave rescue, the coast guard and lifeboats too?

In this article, we look at these emergency services and suggest ways you could introduce the work of these amazing people to the children in your setting.

A brief history of the main emergency services

It’s nice to think that if we are in trouble, there will always be someone there to help. But this was not always true, and in the past, many fires went untended and many crimes unsolved, due to the lack of an organised emergency response.

A Roman general called Marcus Licinius Crassus set up the first organised fire service in the first century BC. He employed around 500 fire-fighters, but as a businessman, unless he could negotiate an ‘acceptable fee’ from the owner of the burning building, his fire-fighters would simply let it burn to the ground.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel set up the first Metropolitan Police Force, however, the Royal Irish Constabulary had been set up in 1822, and Scotland had benefitted from the Royal Scottish Constabulary as early as 1800. Despite this, the early police officers were known as ‘Bobbies’ or ‘Peelers’ in reference to Sir Robert.

And if you were injured in the 1890s, then it was left to the police, fire service or a passer-by to assist you! It was not until The National Health Service Act was passed in 1948, that ambulances were legally required for all those who needed them.

Thankfully, things have improved since these fledgling days and nowadays, members of the emergency services are called out regularly. Let’s look at who these people are and what they do.



The police are the first port of call when dealing with crimes, but they have other duties too, such as enforcing the laws of the land (e.g. traffic laws), promoting crime prevention and maintaining public order and safety. Sadly, the days of the ‘Bobby on the beat’ are mostly over, but police officers are often involved in visiting local schools to promote prevention strategies to children.


The fire service was, until relatively recently, considered a ‘man’s job’, as it was only in 1982 that Josephine Reynolds became Britain’s first female fire-fighter, aged just 17. In January of this year, the BBC ran a story about a 4-year-old girl who wanted to be a fire-fighter but thought that it was only for men, because that’s all she’d ever seen in books and films. Reassuringly, several female fire-fighters replied to her mother’s tweet, proving their existence to little Esme. However, 95% of firefighters in England are male, so more needs to be done to attract women in to the profession.


The NHS website says:
“An ambulance service career is much more than ‘flashing blue lights’! You’ll make a difference every day to patients in emergency and non-emergency situations.”

Many people who work in the ambulance service reiterate this desire to help, and it is what drives most medical staff to train for years and join the service. Ambulance staff include paramedics, emergency care assistants and technicians, but let’s not forget the wonderful doctors and nurses of the NHS too, who are always ready to help whenever disaster strikes and who, together, save countless lives each year.

“Most of all, I love the feeling that I’ve helped others in their moment of need”
Elisha Miller – Paramedic

Coast guard and RNLI lifeboats

Since its formation in 1824, the brave RNLI lifeboat crews; and the coast guards who look out for us on our beaches, cliff tops and coastal waters, have saved over 140,000 lives. Her Majesty’s Coastguard is not a military force, nor a law enforcement agency, but exists to keep us safe and offer assistance if people get into difficulty at sea or on our shorelines. The RNLI is a charity and is funded by donations and run by some extraordinary volunteers – most of whom have everyday jobs too. They are also involved in education and incident prevention, and many children will have seen them at the beach ensuring these areas are kept safe for us to enjoy.

These RNLI statistics underline the need to keep these services running:

Cave Rescue

Whilst the responsibility for inland rescue rests generally with the police, when people get into difficulties in caves, mines or potholes, it is usually some of the 1,000 volunteer cave rescuers who are called in to assist the police, due to their specialised training and experience.

Giving their time freely, British cave rescuers have also participated in worldwide rescues, such as the much-publicised, cave rescue of 12 boys and their coach in Thailand.

Mountain Rescue

There are over 70 mountain rescue teams in the UK and each region exists as its own charity. As well as mountain rescue, these volunteers help many hikers and dogs are often used to help locate people in extreme conditions. Teams also help people in floods and other natural disasters.

22 people aided a day by lifeboat crews

735K + young people reached with safety tips

24K + people aided by RNLI lifeguards

8,436 Lifeboat launches

Get celebrating!

People who help us in times of need are truly special and should be celebrated as real-life heroes.

You could make some bunting or a display to celebrate their work. You could read the children books or newspaper articles or research your own local heroes and invite them to your setting to tell their own stories. Or why not make a big ‘thank you’ card to remind them they are really appreciated? Check out our craft on the next page for some ideas.

The importance of fostering

The importance of fostering

Every year, around 30,000 children enter the British care system – imagine the intake of 30, average-sized comprehensive schools – all children needing to live with people other than their parents, in surroundings that may, or may not be familiar to them. On any one day in the UK, there are 65,000 children living with over 55,000 foster families. That’s a lot of vulnerable children.

In a recent report on the state of fostering in England, the government recognised that:
“…the number of children in care increased at a faster rate than the number of fostering places, which may suggest the fostering sector is struggling to keep up with the increasing demand.”

The charity, Fostering Network, reports that another 8,100 foster families will be needed in the next 12 months alone to meet the increasing demand for places.

So what exactly is fostering, and why is it important?

Fostering has a long history

There are references in The Bible and The Talmud to societies having a ‘duty of care’ for dependent children, although fostering as we understand it today, could be said to have been introduced in 1853, when a Cheshire Reverend, John Armistead, took children out of the local workhouse and placed them with foster families instead. The local union (a predecessor of the local council) paid the foster parents a sum of money, equal to the cost of keeping the child in the workhouse, and was still legally responsible for the children.

In the mid-1800s, the practice began to be more regulated, and the passing of the Adoption of Children Act in 1926, began the move towards increased regulation, legislation and safeguarding, which continues to this day.

What do foster carers do?

Ostensibly, fostering is a simple job involving looking after children and providing them with a bed, food and a stable, nurturing environment that they may not have previously enjoyed. In reality, fostering is much more complex and simply feeding and providing material comforts is the tip of the iceberg. More often, what these children really need, is a loving, stable and consistent approach to their physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing; and those skills go far beyond just ‘bed and board’.

Many children in care have suffered abuse or neglect; causing them to have a range of physical, emotional and mental challenges to deal with, in addition to the trauma of being removed from their parents.

A survey of foster carers revealed that 48% were supporting children with mental health needs who were not currently accessing specialist support; and 43% had looked after a child who had either caused violence in their home, gone missing or had some involvement with the police. This compares to just 8% of parents coping with the same challenges, and highlights the increasing demands of the role. Fostering can be a difficult and emotionally-demanding, 24/7 job!

Responsibilities (amongst others) include:

  • Providing food, clothes and accommodation for the day-to-day living of the child (an allowance is paid to support carers financially with this)
  • Passing the statutory minimum standards for foster carers within 12 months of being approved
  • Attending CPD sessions
  • Keeping accurate records or the child’s progress and incidents involving their behaviour or wellbeing
  • Attending meetings with social workers, medical services, and review sessions
  • Liaising with the birth family
    Acting as an advocate for the child
  • Keeping up-to-date with current training and legislation
  • Supporting children in transition – if they ‘move on’ – either returning home, being adopted or to a new placement

Who can foster?

In short, most people! There’s no ‘generic’ foster carer profile – they come from all social spheres, have a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and life experiences. They receive training and have a dedicated social worker to support them.

There are a few criteria that you need to meet, although these may vary depending on whether you apply through a Local Authority or a private fostering agency. You should:

  • be at least 21 years-old (although you can apply from age 18)
  • have a large-enough spare bedroom
  • be a full-time resident in the UK or have permission to remain
  • be able to give the time to care for a child or young person depending on their needs

Applications can take from 6-12 months from enquiry to approval and will take into account your health, financial security, friends and own family too. Carers also need to pass safeguarding checks. Things that don’t affect your ability to apply include your race, marital status, religion, gender and sexual orientation. In fact, people from ethnic minorities are often sought after to match with children from a similar background. There’s also no upper age limit.

There are also different types of carers including those who look after babies, short-term, long-term, parent-and-baby carers and enhanced carers who deal with the most challenging children.

So with all this potential stress, why does anyone do it?

A foster carer we spoke to said:
“I do it because I can, and because I know I can make a difference. It has not always been easy. There have been many times when I questioned the sanity of what I was doing, especially as a single-carer. There have been tantrums, misunderstandings and difficult issues to resolve – and we are still working through many things each day – all of us learning slowly from each other and making progress. But when I see the life the children have now, and think about what might have been, I know it is the right thing to do and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The truth is, we all have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable children in our society, and fostering is one important and vital way that can give them security, love, and the prospect of lasting change.

For more information, contact your Local Authority, or visit:

Beep Beep! Emergency services car craft

Beep Beep! Emergency services car craft

You will need:

  • Coloured craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue


  1. Pick which emergency services cars you’d like to make
  2. Cut out the different shapes and sizes that will make up your chosen cars, body, wheels, etc.
  3. Glue the shapes together on a piece of paper
  4. You are done!
Childcare providers urged to sign up for meningitis awareness

Childcare providers urged to sign up for meningitis awareness

Meningitis Now, the first meningitis patient group in the world, is calling for childcare providers to demonstrate their commitment to fighting deadly meningitis by signing up to the UK’s only “Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark”.  The aim of this resource is to raise awareness of meningitis and meningococcal disease (meningitis and septicaemia) among staff, carers and parents, promote vaccine uptake and prepare childcare providers for dealing with a case.

Kelly Archer, Information and Projects Co-ordinator, said: “Babies and young children are the age group at greatest risk of contracting meningitis.

“With so many being in the care of childcare providers when parents are at work, we have developed this resource for the sector, to help them recognise the disease and, where required, take the appropriate action. Awareness can and does save lives and improve outcomes.”

The Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark (MARM) features a checklist. On completion each provider will be awarded the Mark, which demonstrates that they are providing information and training to staff about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and the action to take if a child is ill.

It also demonstrates they are aware of the importance of vaccination for the prevention of meningitis and are planning ahead by having a plan in place to deal with a case or an outbreak of meningitis. Once awarded the recognition mark can be used across digital platforms and on a wide variety of marketing and publicity materials to help instil confidence in parents looking for a childcare provider.

Each childcare provider in the UK is invited to register. Once registered, the charity will send details on what needs to be done to receive the Mark itself. Once completed, the Mark will last for two years.

If you have a child in childcare, or your family, friends or neighbours do, please tell them about the MARM and ask their childcare provider to get in touch. Visit

Read more about meningitis here.

National Literacy Trust launches a new website for parents

National Literacy Trust launches a new website for parents

The NLT has launched a new project to help parents boost their children’s literacy skills at home.

The new website,, contains videos, tips and information to help parents include fun and easy reading activities into their daily plan.

Small Talk, which is funded for 18 months, will target seven communities across England over the next year, where literacy skills in children are lower than expected for their age.

The National Literacy Trust is also going to train volunteers to support early years professionals at events which parents attend with their children. Volunteers will then show parents ways they can help children at home.

Events will take place in a few cities: Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon and Peterborough.

The launch of Small Talk corresponds to the “Language unlocks reading” report, written by the National Literacy Trust, with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and Oxford Press. The report talks about the link between a child’s early language skills and their future life chances. It explains that children with poor language skills at the age of five, are six times less likely to reach the expected standard of communication skills by the age of eleven, and twice as likely to be unemployed by the age of 34.

Head of Home Learning Environment at the National Literacy Trust, Judith Parke, said to Nursery World: “When parents are involved in their children’s literacy development, it makes a huge difference to their success at school and in later life.

“Small Talk will help parents turn the daily activities they are already doing with their children into opportunities to build their child’s language skills and give them the foundations for a brighter future.”

Story by: Nursery World

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