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The Fire Fighters Charity


Strategic digital partnership — strategy, transformation and portfolio delivery

What we did:

  • Digital strategy
  • Digital maturity framework
  • Managed transformation


  • Portfolio management
  • Agile team development
  • Programme development

Transforming wellbeing support for the fire services community

The Fire Fighters Charity offers life-long specialist support to the UK’s fire services community - Empowering its 300,000 beneficiaries to achieve enhanced mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Working in a challenging, specialist environment providing confidential personalised services for fire and rescue service personnel and their dependents, the organisation had reached a point where it needed to find new and effective ways to deliver its services and build a sense of community beyond the centres' walls.  They wanted to explore digital and how it could enable them to reach more people in their community.

The Fire Fighters Charity (FFC) embarked on a journey of digital discovery with Digital Wonderlab and together we developed a new strategic approach to digital maturity. A journey that would unlock exciting and new opportunities to engage with beneficiaries and offer timely, proactive support to the people that needed it, when they needed it.

Our strategic digital and governance support for The Fire Fighters Charity has allowed the organisation to successfully align its business goals, develop a coherent change plan and drive better, user centred services to those that matter most.  As their long-term digital partner, we continue to support the team today to deliver their ambitious digital portfolio of programme, so they keep evolving.


The Fire Fighters charity wanted to increase its mental health support provision, expand access to information and advice, develop enhanced physical and rehabilitation programmes and, at the centre of it all, build and strengthen connected communities - both physically and virtually.

The opportunity to provide accessible, proactive and preventative support to all and extending the Charity’s reach beyond the face-to-face services was clear. 

This required the delivery and provision of advice and information to a broad and geographically dispersed beneficiary base. A service that is accessible to all, available 24-7, covers a diverse spectrum of topics and offers advice relevant to each and every member of its target audience.

Accomplishing this would transform the Charity from a reactive provider of support services for those in need, to a proactive provider of transformative health and wellbeing advice. Thereby helping the entire fire services community to live healthier.

Those who work for the UK's fire and rescue services have always faced significant challenges to their personal wellbeing, often working in environments that require high levels of physical strength and mental resilience. This has become increasingly evident to the wider society in recent times with high profile incidents like Grenfell Tower fire demonstrating the need to support firefighters, past and present, as well as their families, with their mental health and wellbeing.

Having supported the fire services community for almost 80 years, The Fire Fighters Charity has a long history of rising to meet the challenges facing the beneficiaries. However, recent years have demonstrated that, whilst it is adept at providing reactive support to those in need, it is missing the opportunity to prevent issues from surfacing by providing proactive support to the whole fire services community.

The FFC faced several organisational challenges. The charity’s services were increasingly in demand, and a new approach was needed to continue to support an ever-increasing number of beneficiaries and families.

Transformation – audit and strategy development

Our digital transformation programme needed to support a significant shift in the charity’s service offering, through exploration and investment in innovative digital technologies that could support:

  • The development of community-based initiatives
  • The dissemination of research-led, proactive health and wellbeing content and resources
  • Partnership working with fire and rescue services and other complementary organisations
  • The delivery of major campaigns to raise awareness of who they are, what they do and how they help

We undertook a full strategic digital review, focussing on The Fire Fighters Charity’s people, culture, process, data, and systems.  We identified the internal skills necessary to move towards digital maturity and defined the essential steps needed to achieve this.

Gaining a full understanding of the organisation’s technology use and their future needs was essential to scoping the digital strategy.  It allowed us to define the current landscape, explore TFFC’s digital vision and bring alignment to the charity’s long-term digital and strategic objectives.

Transformation – digital roadmap and portfolio management

We focussed on defining the proposed digital programme by working alongside the delivery team; building a prioritised and outcome-focused strategic roadmap and defining the supporting governance and skills needed to deliver it. An essential role we played to support delivery was to provide ongoing programme assurance and be an expert sound boarding to team.  We helped ensure focus, highlighting thematic strategic issues and support challenges.

From the outset, the aim was to cultivate a project mindset in the organisation.  Many of the team come from a clinical background and are not traditionally project managers, so a new set of skills was needed. We delivered tailored virtual training sessions to the Executive and Senior Leadership Team, focusing on the core skills and tools required to lead projects. This was followed by coaching and support to embed the learnings within the organisation.

The digital transformation saw the team maximise the use of Salesforce, move to digital consultations through App based recovery support and adopt VoIP software and Microsoft Teams. Software that proved invaluable. Giving the organisation the tech ability and flexibility to continue to deliver its essential services to beneficiaries during the lockdown.

The digital systems adopted have successfully removed the previous barriers for some beneficiaries to connect with FFC. Thanks to tech-enabled pre-assessments blended with virtual face-to-face consultations people can now access valuable health and wellbeing content and support before they reach crisis.

The results


people received improved access to health and wellbeing services


digital strategy to realise goals


Digital transformation programme to enable change effectively

“We’re now much less tied to our locations - technology has aided our internal abilities, and we’ve become a much more cohesive organisation. We’re thinking digitally, finding new ways to engage with our staff and beneficiaries, and exploring all possibilities. Digital Wonderlab’s team has been hugely approachable, open and transparent throughout our strategic digital transformation process - we’ve had great confidence in their judgement and knowledge.”

Martin Smith, Finance Director, The Fire Fighters Charity

The Fire Fighters Charity is now in possession of a clear digital maturity framework to help achieve its long-term strategic goals. The right internal processes, IT systems and governance frameworks are in place to ensure that FFC is ready and able to meet future challenges.

The tailored project approach Digital Wonderlab shared has produced a transformational mindset and appetite for change within the organisation. There has been a significant shift in delivery as projects are delivered across teams and structures who previously did not collaborate. There has also been a sizeable shift in skillset, resulting in some great projects delivered. Creating real excitement and a strong belief in what they can achieve together.

The Fire Fighters Charity is now a digital-first service, and they continue on their journey to digital maturity. We have built the optimum environment for digital expansion by constructing the appropriate infrastructure and hardware to meet digital expectations, whilst enhancing their web presence and internal and external systems. We’ve also explored tech capabilities to support the existing service provision, including digital rehabilitation and welfare services.

“We wanted to be much more flexible and proactive in the way that our service was offered - through digital consultations, working with third parties or collaborating with other organisations - and make it much easier for our beneficiaries to receive our support in ways that work for them. Above all else, we needed to create a community once again.”

Martin Smith, Finance Director, The Fire Fighters Charity

“Fire fighters help people: they’re not typically the people who ask for help. As a charity, we recognised that there was a lot more that we could do in the preventative, proactive space - and that we could make a real difference at scale by taking the right digital approach.”

Martin Smith, Finance Director, The Fire Fighters Charity

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