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Week 7 - RoSPA

on 06/03/2015

Pulling up to the very impressive building just outside the city centre of Birmingham, I knew I had arrived at the centre of safety and accident prevention. It stands like a tall authoritative monument making its mark; like something you would find along the prestigious Harley street in London. With a large white towering mansion house with its impressive flickering red flag and big red doors, its not far off number 10 downing street.. I had made my way over to the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) on Friday afternoon to have a quick meeting before their major Family Safety Week campaign kicked off on Monday and they wanted me to be fully prepped for the week ahead.

Monday soon rolled around and my week started at Queensbridge school in Birmingham, where I arrived just after 7am. A bustle of activity surrounded the back entrance to the school with children with bikes loudly chatting to camera crews carefully filming their every move. The event was supported by 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist James Cracknell and Homes under the Hammer TV host, Martin Roberts. The morning was the epitome of where RoSPA want to re-position their brand, public facing.

Most of you reading this may or may not have heard of RoSPA (Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents). They are a charity that help educate, train and lobby for the safety of everybody in the UK. Whether this be at work, on the road, during leisure activities or even in the home. Their mission, help prevent as many accidents as possible.

I guess some of you may think, much like I did before I arrived is that they are somewhat of a nanny charity. Who are they to tell me how to act and ‘be safe’ in my own home?

When I do get back home the first thing I do is take off my shoes, pop my slippers on and get on with my evening. But did you know that that out of 14,000 deaths caused by accidents in 2012 just under half of those were caused in our own houses? 6,100, compared to jus 133 at work? No, neither did I.

This is why RoSPA exist. Interestingly you would think that this was a government issue, and you’re not wrong, but the government don’t put a priority on training and education of accident prevention. Which is why RoSPA exist. You know those pesky seat belts we wear? RoSPA changed the law to make them compulsory. Talking on your phone whilst driving? RoSPA. Flame retardant foam in sofas? RoSPA. After finding this out I knew an educational week led before me.

On Tuesday I had a wonderful morning with the CEO,Tom. We had an insightful chat into the massive challenges that RoSPA face. Now do not get me wrong, all charities have their cruxes, but RoSPA are truly in a ball court of their own. Trying to sell, fundraise and convince the public that avoiding accidents is life saving is a pretty tough gig. They don’t have fluffy puppies or little kids to help promote their cause; just facts, figures and statistics of pretty much accidents that have yet to occur.

For instance, Tom informed me that nobody is lobbying the government for public accident prevention apart from RoSPA. There are of course many ways of spinning statistics but humour me if we look at it one way. You can look at death in two ways, number of people affected or years of life lost. You could have on one hand 1million people (for example) that die of cancer each year but they 80% of those could be 75+. Whereas you could have 500,000 people die from accidents in a year but the average age is 34 (for example) meaning that the years of life lost is much higher because those people died much younger. Which one is more tragic?

Nazan above lost her daughter a few years ago to a tragic accident. The driver of a HGV was texting on his phone and ran over her daughter on the way out of school. She was trapped under the vehicle for almost 20 minutes, where she tragically died. Nazan now works closely with RoSPA to campaign for safer roads across the country.

I sat and watched a lovely program about the NHS on Tuesday night about the major strain of resources from people going to their GP or A&E. What RoSPA challenge is that instead of taking a reactive, preventative & proactive approach; Educate and teach people about the dangers in their home. As these dangers are the main reason for accidents in the UK. I had never even fathomed that having an accident in my own home is one of the biggest causes of accidental death in this country. You think being at home is the safest place in the world, and of course it is on an emotional level but most of us become so relaxed at home we leave toys and books up the stairs which in the middle of the night in the dark could cause us to slip, fall down the stairs and break your leg. Now interestingly enough you may just sit and think to yourself well that's an accident, a once in a blue moon event. But then actually think; everyone else thinks this to. Then when you really think about it what everyone called a small accident really is a national epidemic of people being relaxed at home and unknowingly putting themselves in danger.

Wednesday morning I headed down to the call in centre, where 3 lovely ladies spent their day answering the public phone lines to help with any safety question the public has. Whether it be about the size of the child's car seat through to how to help secure your grandparents home so they are less likely to fall. They've even had people call up to see if its safe to travel with their baby in the boot of their car! But with dignity, grace and a special touch they answer every question with love and compassion.

It was here where I had a moment. Growing up and even to this day whenever I have a problem, I call my nan. She is the fountain of all knowledge and if I am totally honest I even call her every single time I want to make a dippy egg (runny egg). To the point where she bought me an egg timer at Christmas! But it got me thinking. RoSPA are seen as a nanny state charity. But is that a bad thing? Don’t we all call our nans when we need help or advice? So I proposed to them that their help centre be the fountain of knowledge from the 'nans' that run it!

If you have any questions you can call or email.

Thursday flew by with meetings around the charity including their sales team. What's interesting is that RoSPA don't traditionally fundraise, they sell. They have a commercial department, which sells their and other accredited training courses to businesses across the UK and the world. It is this commercial approach, which gives the charity their income. A world away from other charities who battle for Trust funding and donations, they have devised a smart and sustainable model to ensure the survival of their organisation.

My time with RoSPA has been incredibly insightful. I don’t envy their jobs. Trying to get buy in from the public for accidents that have yet to happen is a very tough gig indeed. But I admire their integrity and approach. They save lives and have saved millions of lives by working humbly in the background of our society. So next time you hear about your friend who lived because their wore their seatbelt, think of RoSPA, because they saved your friends life.

Luke Cameron

Author: Luke Cameron

Good deed enthusiast Luke Cameron has the Nicest Job in Britain. Follow his journey as he travels the country helping a different charity each week.