Coping with the Fireworks Championships

A trauma-informed response to fireworks

The British Firework Championships is taking place on Wednesday 17 August and Thursday 18 August 2022. The sudden and loud bangs may bring up memories and activate a natural trauma response following the recent anniversary of last year’s events in Keyham.

What is happening

The British Firework Championships will take place on Plymouth Hoe from  9.30pm on Wednesday and Thursday. It will involve three firework displays on each evening at 9.30pm, 9.50pm and 10.10pm which will last approximately ten minutes each. The competition is likely to finish by 11pm.

How this may affect you

Following the recent anniversary of last year’s events in Keyham, the fireworks may or may not activate a natural trauma response. A natural response after exposure to trauma is a panic reaction to sudden noises. Intrusive thoughts and dreams may occur and are normal reactions to abnormal and traumatic experiences.

What can be helpful

 Self-soothing techniques

  • Have access to things that are warm and comforting. It can help to think about your five senses i.e. something you enjoy listening to, something sweet to eat or a warm drink, wrapping up in something soft, scented candles, etc.
  • Rhythm can be comforting – move around, play music, use fidget spinners, rock from side to side (try to avoid rocking backwards and forwards) 
  • Focus on your breathing and try to make the out-breath longer than the in-breath
  • Try to notice and soften tension in your face and body
  • Make plans to watch a TV programme, series or film you enjoy
  • Plan to do a distracting or mindful activity such as art, craft, mindful colouring, puzzles or board games
  • Reach out to people who provide you comfort and support; is there someone you can call or ask to keep you company?
  • Consider using ear plugs or earphones during the firework competition
  • You may find comforting your pets is comforting for you.

Limit exposure to the media

Including social media. Distressing images and disclosures can activate trauma responses.

Reach out for immediate support

  • Independent charity Victim Support offers 24/7 support on 08081 689111
  • Or chat to them 24/7 via live webchat
  • My Support Space is an online resource designed by Victim Support with a great section on resources and suggestions for those who are supporting someone affected by harm. There is a bespoke page for the Keyham incident
  • Samaritans
  • Online advice on processing death and anxiety is available through Childline (0800 1111) as well as further support for parents via the NSPCC (0808 800 5000)
  • Read Childline’s advice about getting through a tough time 

I am supporting someone affected by the recent community trauma

You might be worried about someone who is affected and might not know what to do best to help. These are some top tips:

  • Listen without offering solutions
  • Do things that are comforting for them
  • Make sure they have their basic needs met such as food, shelter and warmth
  • Don’t expect them to know what they need – just gently try some things together
  • Can they leave the area in advance and come to your house?
  • Could you go out and do something nice together – a meal or watch a film?
  • Every interaction has the potential to be helpful if done with kindness and compassion. Always remember that people might be reacting from a place of trauma
  • Victim Support help is also available to you if someone you care about has been affected by a crime. You can access any of their services above and you can sign onto  the My Support Space as a supporter to find guides on how to help others.

With thanks to the Trauma Informed Plymouth Network, Victim Support and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for collaborating on this guidance.

We hope some of this might be helpful and prevent further harm.