THE Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has launched a weekly, online lottery to raise funds to support good causes in the fire service and to support the families of firefighters who are killed or seriously injured while working.
The lottery was initially set up to mark the centenary of the FBU which was started in 1918.
The first draw of the Firefighters 100 Lottery took place on 5 November and will be held every week hereafter.
Tickets are £1 each and 50p from each ticket goes towards the good causes.
There are three guaranteed cash prizes each week, with the amount of the prizes determined by how many people buy tickets.
Dave Green, a national officer for the Fire Brigade Union, says there are five areas the money raised by the lottery will go towards.
These are family support, memorials, prevention through learning from past experiences, research into predominantly mental and physical health and humanitarian assistance.
[The lottery] is set up to help commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed and injured in the line of duty and to establish a fund for the future benefit of firefighters, their bereaved families and the firefighting profession.”
The mother of a Manchester firefighter who was killed on the job in 2013 has endorsed the lottery.
Her son, Stephen Hunt was killed in a fire at Paul’s Hair World in July 2013. He was 38 years old.
His mother, Sue Veevers, has called for people to get behind the Firefighters 100 Lottery.
“I was so pleased to hear that the FBU have set up their own lottery to support, among other good causes, the families of fallen and injured firefighters,” she said.
Ms Veevers said her son’s death and its aftermath was “hell” for her family.
“People assume that families such as mine are looked after following such a tragedy, but it’s not always the case. A special fund to support those unlucky enough to lose a loved one is much needed and very welcome,” she said.
The FBU believes the loss of so many firefighters is due to the government’s funding cuts causing extensive job losses and a lack of adequate funding to bring in young, new recruits. Mr Green says the austerity measures put in place by the government have left firefighters feeling increasingly undervalued and vulnerable.
The Fire Brigade Union estimates the fire brigade in the U.K. has lost about 10,000 people since 2010. This is largely due to the government’s funding cuts meaning extensive job losses and lack of adequate funding to bring in young, new recruits.
Mr Green says the FBU’s view is that if politicians won’t help to support firefighters, then they have to, “step up and try to support the service where the government won’t.”
A rise in the firefighters suicide rate has been a part of the reason the FBU has pushed forward with raising money itself, in order to tackle the reasons for the crisis.
Mr Green says the austerity measures put in place by the government have left firefighters feeling increasingly undervalued and vulnerable.
“The fire service is under threat as never before, the people who work in it are under threat as never before and it has left people feeling very isolated in their profession,” he said.
In terms of helping to support firefighters with the trauma that they may see on the job, Mr Green says that counselling is offered, but more research needs to be done to help to determine the best kinds of support.
“People want to talk about it with people who can relate to it. There needs to be a bit more research and in depth thinking.”
“We hope that the lottery will be a resounding success,” he said.
Tickets for the lottery can be purchased here.
If you or someone you know is affected by this story, you call call MIND on 0300 123 3393 or The Samaritans on 116 123.