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Senior Surrey firefighter becomes ambassador for Big Issue

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton The Big Issue Surrey Fire and Rescue

Published by Carol Musgrave at 12:55pm 15th April 2019. (Updated at 5:08am 16th April 2019)

Picture credit: @dr_sab_cohenhatton 

A Surrey Fire and Rescue Service firefighter, who was homeless in her teens, has been made an ambassador for the Big Issue.

Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, who is deputy chief fire officer, sold the magazine while living on the streets for two years from the age of 15.

The 36 year old features on the latest cover of the publication which is out today.

The magazine says her life unravelled after her father died, when she fell "through the cracks", becoming "out of reach of support services."

She said she felt extremely vulnerable, but selling The Big Issue helped give her structure and focus during this time, and "helped her reintegrate back into society:"

"So that was the great thing about The Big Issue. It gave me an opportunity to earn. It gave me some dignity back at a time when I felt like I didn’t have any.

"“When you live that life, you feel invisible. You feel like a ghost in society. If someone in the street falls over, people rush over to help, but there you are on the street corner with no food in your belly, nowhere to live, no clean clothes and people walk past you like you are not there.” 

At the age of 18, Dr Cohen-Hatton joined the fire service, whom she credits for seeing beyond her circumstances and recruiting her.

She has since risen through the ranks to become deputy chief fire officer of SFRS since December 2018, on secondment from the London Fire Brigade.

Dr Cohen-Hatton has studied for a PHD in behavioural neuroscience - researching risk critical decision-making, the findings of which, she says, have been applied to the fire service.

The academic firefighter has also just had a book published about her experiences, The Heat Of The Moment, in which she writes about the skills necessary for survival in the firefighting environment. 

 

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