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Responding to major incident following discovery of an unexploded bomb – through the eyes of health and social care workers

by | 27th February 2024 | News

The evacuation of residents was the largest that Plymouth has seen in peace time.

More than ten thousand people were told to leave their homes after an unexploded ordnance was discovered buried in the back garden of a house in Keyham where building works were being carried out in February 2024.

They were advised to go to rest centres which Livewell Southwest was instrumental in setting up. The first was the Beacon Centre in North Prospect. The second was at the Life Centre in Central Park.

Teams from Livewell Southwest worked with partners such as Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Community Homes to establish and manage these rest centres.


Staff in hi-viz at table

Pictured left to right in the control room at the Life Centre – Sue Adams (Head of Risk and Emergency Planning), Beth Trathen (Service Development Manager) and Andy Williams (Adult Social Care Lead).


They were staffed by teams from across Livewell Southwest, including Registered Community Nurses, Mental Health Nurses and Wellbeing Practitioners. Many worked extra hours to support.

Table at rest centre

Kelly Hollingworth, Community Mental Health Support Worker (pictured right) said: “There has definitely been a lot of emotional distress and it has brought up some difficult memories for people in Keyham. It just goes to show what community is. Everyone can pull together when they’re needed and support each other, no matter what.”

Natalie Marks, Community Registered Nurse in the Urgent Care Nursing Service (pictured left) said: “The response from all the different organisations has been amazing in such a short space of time.”

Two women in hi-viz

Lisa Matthews, Community Care Worker (pictured left) said: “There has been a lot of heightened anxiety. I sat with someone for five hours who needed a lot of reassurance that things were going to be ok. It has been phenomenal seeing how everyone has mucked in, with services from across the city pulling together to support people who need our help.”

Cath Bassett, Community Care Worker (pictured right) said: “It felt surreal guiding people into the Life Centre showing people what was available. Teams have really looked after each other.”

Woman in hi-viz

Mandy Chapman, Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner with the Wellbeing Team said: “I was so impressed at the speed at what has been organised for people here at the Life Centre from medical care and housing advice to catering and crèche facilities. It is so good to see how the city has come together at a time like this.”

Woman in hi-viz

Sophie Ineson, Student Social Worker with Adult Social Care said: “I never imagined I would be in a situation like this on my placement. The response has been incredible. I was particularly impressed seeing how housing was sorted for people so quickly.”

Woman in hi-viz

Kelley Henn, Health Improvement Practitioner with the Wellbeing Team said: “All the different agencies have really excelled themselves working together. I am really proud to be here as part of the team.”

 Four women in hi-viz at desk

Pictured left to right – Sara Alcock and Joy Collins from Adult Social Care, Simone Drake, Primary Care Mental Health Nurse Manager and Cindy Haworth, Urgent Care Nursing Service Nursing Associate.

Simone said: “It was lovely to represent Livewell Southwest and provide a service to the community in the hour of need.”

Livewell Southwest Chief Executive Officer Michelle Thomas said: “I want to thank everyone involved. The evacuation of residents was the largest that the city has seen in peace time, with Livewell Southwest holding an important role in the response.

“As an organisation, we had fantastic representation in the response cells and at the rest centres. Community teams quickly identified those affected by the displacement and could plan for the continuation of their care.

“Within hours of the incident being declared, our teams had put a rota in place to provide immediate nursing, social care, and mental health support to the rest centres. While our teams provided crucial professional input at the centres, they also provided a listening ear to those that needed one.

“The rest centres were a real hive of activity at their peak times and welcomed hundreds of residents through their doors. I have had many people come to me to commend staff for their positivity, can-do attitude and for their many acts of kindness.

“Our teams make me proud to lead an organisation full of professionalism and compassion.”

Staff in hi-vis talking to a visitor