Community champions

Volunteers on the new Lifewise set. From left Chanelle Houghton, Andy Houghton, Sgt Andy Harbon, Andy Hall from outh Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and Graham Webb
Volunteers on the new Lifewise set. From left Chanelle Houghton, Andy Houghton, Sgt Andy Harbon, Andy Hall from outh Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and Graham Webb

A mock town built by the community for the community is taking shape in Rotherham.

The new and improved Lifewise centre is due to open this month and has received massive support from local businesses, tradespeople and volunteers.

Lifewise is an interactive learning centre run by South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

Its main feature is a life-like set of a town where police, fire and other agencies deliver safety advice to the public.

The most popular programme is Crucial Crew, which is offered to all year six school pupils in South Yorkshire.

The children act out different scenarios on the set and specialist officers equip the children with the skills and knowledge to stay safe and away from crime.

The centre moved to its new home at Hellaby Industrial Park earlier this year. The set has had a complete revamp with better houses, park, shops and pub and the addition of new areas including a court, internet cafe and accident and emergency department.

Andy Houghton, 40, from Denaby Main in Doncaster, has so far donated five weeks of his time in helping to build the new set, which started out as an empty warehouse.

Currently in his second year of construction course at Doncaster College, he wanted to spend his summer break doing something useful.

He said: “Of all the ways I could have volunteered my time, I saw this as a great cause. My eldest stepdaughter has been to the previous Lifewise centre for Crucial Crew and I like what it does in helping kids stay out of trouble and teaching them valuable life lessons and skills.”

Acting Inspector Andy Harbon, site manager at the Lifewise, added: “Both South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue are grateful to Andy for his work. It’s fantastic that Andy has given the centre so much of his time and knowledge. “

“We’ve had great support all-round. The Kier group donated two joiners and two painters for a fortnight, Arnold Laver Timberworld donated all of the wood to build the set and Morrisons provided some of their tradespeople to help out, as well as giving great advice on health and safety.

“We’ve also had items and props donated to add to the authenticity of the set such as a fully-fitted and functioning kitchen from Howdens.”