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Getting on like a house on fire with the fire service

We have teamed up Fire and Rescue Services across the country to hold donor sessions at their fire stations free of charge. This partnership is especially valuable as it allows us to host sessions in the heart of many communities, such as Shadwell in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London.

Director of Blood Donation Mike Stredder and Senior Sister Ebony Dunkley with staff at Shadwell Fire Station.

Director of Blood Donation Mike Stredder and members of NHSBT's Venue Improvment Team with staff at Shadwell Fire Station.

Shadwell Fire Station hosted its first public donation session in September. It is the first time we’ve teamed up with a fire service in the capital. Shadwell is an ethnically diverse community and we hope this means we will collect much-needed blood from the black, Asian and minority ethnic donors from the area.

London Fire Brigade’s Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets, Pat Goulbourne, said, “By partnering with NHS Blood and Transplant, we are another step closer to our goal of bringing our fire stations into the heart of the communities they serve.

“Opening up our fire station to support NHSBT means we’re able to help local people make potentially lifesaving donations. The Brigade and NHSBT share a common goal – to save lives – so working together is a natural fit. With a combined passion for saving lives and keeping people safe and well, we hope it’ll result in the community seizing this opportunity on their doorstep. As a blood donor myself, I know it’s a simple quick process to donate blood and it can make a huge difference to someone in need.”

So far 27 fire stations across the country have passed an assessment to host blood donation sessions and have offered their facilities free of charge. These include stations in County Durham & Darlington, Royal Berkshire & Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire and Milton Keynes. Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service was one of the first to work with us, and in March they celebrated making their 1,000th donation, potentially benefiting up to 3,000 people.

NHSBT Chief Executive Ian Trenholm and members of NHSBT's Venue Improvement Team with staff at ShadwellNHSBT Chief Executive Ian Trenholm and members of NHSBT's Venue Improvement Team with staff at ShadwellNHSBT Chief Executive Ian Trenholm and members of NHSBT's Venue Improvement Team with staff at Shadwell

This partnership is part of a larger project to try and find donation venues at reduced rates. The current cost of venue hire adds about £3.15 to the cost of obtaining each unit of blood.  Using venues that don’t charge (or reduce their fees) is important for reinvesting money back into the wider NHS.  

NHSBT’s Jana Meier said, “The partnerships we have with these fire services have been wonderful in allowing us to access these fantastic venues – many of which allow us to collect blood from over 150 donors in one day Their kindness in offering us these venues enables us to continue saving and improving lives while making savings to be reinvested back into the NHS. Our success has been possible thanks to the support of these fire services. They are championing our cause, and for that we are truly grateful.”

Have an idea for a venue?

If you know of a venue that could be provided to host a blood donation session free of charge or at a reduced rate, please get in touch by emailing Venue.ImprovementTeam@nhsbt.nhs.uk.  Venues need to be 21 metres by 10 metres in size, with toilet facilities and easy access.