South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service

EDI Workshops

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Training Workshops


South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) is the statutory fire and rescue service for the area of South Yorkshire. In working towards their mission of ‘making South Yorkshire safer and stronger’​, SYFR operates 21 fire stations across the four districts of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. Their work extends beyond fighting fires, with staff responding to a wide range of emergencies including road traffic collisions, water rescues and a variety of ‘special service’ incidents. They also work extensively in a preventative and educational capacity, to reduce the number of incidents that arise.

SYFR employs around 1000 people to fulfil their mission, primarily front-line firefighting staff, but many of whom provide essential support services and also help the service to conduct community safety work and enforce fire safety laws.


In 2023, SYFR requested some bespoke training to form part of their compulsory Equality, Diversity & Inclusion programme for all employees. Delivered as a one-day workshop, the desired training would focus on challenging inappropriate behaviour and the ability to develop and support a diverse workforce. The audience for the training included fire authority members, senior and middle managers, corporate, control and ‘non-rider’ staff, and delivery would be face-to-face at stations, engaging operational firefighters and other staff together.

SYFR’s key learning objectives were:

  • Ensure all staff comprehend legal obligations concerning equality legislation and their roles.
  • Enhance awareness of barriers faced by underrepresented groups and promote positive action and managerial support.
  • Foster a culture of inclusion by understanding its impact both within and outside the organisation.
  • Educate staff on identifying and addressing bullying and harassment, emphasising their personal and organisational impacts.
  • Clarify organisational behaviour expectations to align with SYFR’s values.
  • Address unconscious bias in the workplace and society, providing actionable steps for mitigation.
  • Equip staff with practical toolkits for ongoing personal development in understanding and addressing behavioural impacts on others.


Having been awarded the contract via competitive tender exercise, Eliesha recognised that staff had previously undertaken generic EDI training. Our scoping and design focus was therefore on ensuring that this learning experience was not only tailored to the exact needs of a fire service workforce but also designed to be highly interactive, fostering engagement and facilitating a psychologically safe and effective learning environment.

To achieve this, an iterative design process included multiple meetings with the SYFR EDI team and Eliesha’s lead designer in order to create a day that signposted learners to SYFR policies and support around EDI issues. We also worked with the EDI team to curate activities and case studies which would aid the learners critical thinking and allow for safe and open discussions.


The attendance figures for this programme have been strong (85%), particularly considering the sensitive subject matter and the unpredictable operational environment of a uniformed emergency service. This demonstrates the required level of commitment and engagement from learners has been achieved and is also reflective of the positive reputation the training quickly gained within the organisation – something also signposted by informal feedback.

We are also pleased with the quantity of feedback that we have received throughout the programme – achieving a return rate of 81% vs. attendance, meaning we received a detailed view of where the training has been successful and where it can be improved, and at this ratio we believe the feedback is accurate and reflective of the broader learning experience within the learning environment created.

Evaluation scores themselves are very strong. The average trainer score stands at 94%, while the overall workshop score averages at 88%. Furthermore, we’ve received an abundance of positive feedback comments, with some even drawing favourable comparisons to a previous EDI programme from many years ago. It’s gratifying to witness such feedback, affirming our commitment to delivering a successful programme.

Comments & Feedback

“I liked how the course seemed to be shaped around how to present environments where people can challenge behaviour rather than making people scared to behave naturally. Not making people into scapegoats!”

“This course should be conducted more often to keep everyone up to date and reinforce learning.”

“This course has been the best EDI course I’ve ever been on. I’ve been on A LOT over the years!”

“Thank you Sue for the fantastic EDI training. Very knowledgeable, great pace and very interesting course content. One of the best training sessions I’ve attended in a long time!! 5*!!”

“It was a very insightful course with open discussion. A big improvement on the previous EDI course that I attended a few years ago.”

“The instructor was very knowledgeable and helped us to understand points clearly. I felt a responsibility at the end of the session to take what I have learned and educate others.”

“The conversations were very open and easy, and it felt like we were having conversations rather than being told what we should and shouldn’t be doing.”

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