THE HAMPSHIRE Fire Service have launched a new children's book aimed at teaching children how to stay safe during a pandemic.

Launched as part of the popular Keeping Safe with Susie the Childminder series, Susie the Childminder and the Pandemic will teach children about the importance of community, building resilience and staying safe, healthy and positive during challenging times such as the coronavirus crisis.

The book is completely funded by Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (HIOW LRF), with the hope that this free, fun yet educational tool will help teachers, parents and carers have open discussions with children about how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting us all, now and in the future.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Education Manager Judy Rice said: “I’ve been a great supporter of the Susie books for years as I’ve seen first-hand in classrooms what an invaluable educational resource they are. This is a distressing and confusing time for children, and we hope that through the power of storytelling we can encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling and make sure they feel comfortable asking questions. Thank you to HIOW LRF who shared this vision and helped us turn this educational tool into a reality!”

Chair of HIOW LRF Delivery Group, Hampshire Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Ben Snuggs added: “I’m so glad in this difficult time we’ve been able to provide funding for this book which will be a beneficial and fun resource for children as we learn to live with Covid-19 now and into the future."

Around 3,000 free copies of the book will be sent to all Infant and Primary schools across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as well as other educational settings, while a free page-turner version is also available to access now on the "Kidzone" area of the HFRS website.

Author of the book, Donna Smith said: “I was inspired to write this latest Susie story as I wanted to try to normalise the strange times we are all facing due to the global pandemic. By doing so I hope this will help alleviate any anxieties the children may have. As well as being informative, it’s a fun story featuring familiar characters, who are experiencing the same challenges as the young readers.”