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Project Bernie

11 May 2011


An innovative social marketing initiative aimed at preventing deliberate fire-setting in the South Wales Valleys, has been nominated for a prestigious Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Excellence Award.

‘Project Bernie’ - a collaboration which included Cardiff University’s ESRC Centre for Business Relationships Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) – saw youngsters getting involved in a programme of Easter activities including bush-craft skills, DJ skills, abseiling, filmmaking, ‘Fire-fighter for a Day’, and graffiti workshops.

The six week intervention programme reduced grassfires by 46% - three times the original target of the study.

The success of Project Bernie has led to Dr Sue Peattie, a lecturer at Cardiff Business School and Research Associate at BRASS, and SWFRS being shortlisted for the award under the Public Sector category.

The CIPR Excellence Awards are the most credible in the PR profession, and are currently in their 26th year. Shortlisted entrants will now be invited for interview by a panel of judges comprising PR experts, and winners will be announced at an awards dinner in London on the 1st June 2011.

Dr Peattie said: "The recent spate of wild fires across the UK has shown the risk such fires pose to our environment, local communities and the lives of fire-fighters. In some communities such fires are started deliberately and are an annual problem.

"What Project Bernie has shown is that it is possible to break that cycle of behaviour and deter youngsters from fire-setting by providing more interesting things for them to do, improving enforcement and building a closer relationship between fire-fighters and the communities they serve."

CIPR is the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK. With 9,500 members involved in all aspects of PR, it is the largest body of its type in Europe.

CIPR Chief Executive Officer Jane Wilson commented: "Congratulations to our Excellence finalists this year for their achievement in public relations most demanding awards. They have come through a rigorous judging process to reach this stage.

"What’s more, their outstanding work is testament to the resilience of the profession during these economically challenging times. We look forward to recognising and rewarding the winners at the CIPR Excellence Awards evening on 1 June" she added.

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