Stafford firefighters take the fire station into the community

A team of firefighters and college students have come together to offer lunch to members of the local community.

Students from Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group’ Stafford Campus have teamed up with local firefighters and Fire and Rescue Service staff for the event ‘The Mess Room @ Riverbank’, which aimed to promote engagement with members of the local community.

As part of the session, aspiring young chefs from the college prepared a two-course meal, enhancing their skills in food planning, preparation and service, which was served to guests in the college’s unique Riverbank Restaurant.

The restaurant hosted around 40 guests at the inaugural event which took place on Wednesday (25 January), including local residents, community groups, other emergency services and military personnel from nearby MOD Stafford. It is hoped that the partnership will become a regular fixture in the town. 

Caroline Firkins, Business Support Manager at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Given the challenges that many households are currently facing, we believe that providing the opportunity for local residents and other organisations to come and enjoy conversation and a hot meal in a relaxed and informal setting is the right thing to do for our communities.

“As a Fire and Rescue Service, it is essential that we engage with and understand our communities and this has proven difficult in recent years due to the effects of the pandemic. Put simply, the community hasn’t been able to come to the fire station so we thought we would take the fire station into the community.”

Caroline added “We very much see this as a win-win-win arrangement. These fantastic young people get to perfect their skills, we get the opportunity to interact with our communities and local residents get a delicious lunch free of charge.”

Assistant Director for Curriculum and Head of Progression Studies at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG), Navarda Garside said: “We are so pleased to have been asked to get involved with the event alongside Staffordshire Fire and Rescue to offer delicious lunches to residents across the Stafford area.

“NSCG Stafford College are proud to be part of the local community and we're fully aware of how challenging a time it is for many residents. On hearing about this amazing initiative, we jumped at the chance to offer freshly cooked hot meals, planned and prepared by our talented Hospitality and Catering learners in the Riverbank Restaurant kitchens at Stafford College. This was a brilliant opportunity for the students to work closely on such an important initiative."

If you would like to know more about The Mess Room @ Riverbank, please contact Caroline Firkins on 01785 898513 or email