The UK Fire and Rescue Service has won a Big Society award for its ground-breaking work with young people to educate about fire prevention and tackle anti-social behaviour.
The award from the Prime Minister recognises a range of initiatives the service operates across the country, including The Prince’s Trust Team programme, the FireFit programme which encourages participation in sport and cultural activities, and the nationally recognised Fire Cadet scheme, which was started in Cheshire in 1992.
The award was presented by Neil O’Connor, CLG Director for Fire, Resilience and Emergencies, to Paul Fuller, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), at an event at Essex Fire and Rescue Service HQ on Friday 4th July celebrating the impact of work with children and young people.
CFO Paul Fuller, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said:
“We welcome this award, which recognises the impact that fire and rescue services have made on the lives of children and young people throughout the country."
Fire and rescue services are committed to their communities – not just to saving lives but to transforming the lives of many young people as well.
The Fire Service’s education programmes have enabled over 10,000 young people to learn vital safety information and wider life skills. Since 1992, a partnership between The Prince’s Trust and the Fire and Rescue Service has re-engaged with thousands of unemployed 16- to 25-year-olds, helping them to develop self-esteem and skills for work.
Programmes range from primary school visits teaching children the dangers of fire to health and wellbeing initiatives (such as sports coaching) to interventions aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour by disaffected young people.
The Fire Cadet programme for 12- to 18-year-olds encourages both personal and social development, with the potential to gain nationally-recognised qualifications, take part in residential camps and learn new skills.
Phil Garrigan, CFOA Lead Officer on Children and Young People said:
“This award recognises the work of so many dedicated fire service colleagues who spend time engaging with young people. Their commitment to putting something back in to the community they serve, is inspiring.”
Currently there are 18 Fire and Rescue Services who directly deliver Team, and this is increasing. 85% of the other UK Fire and Rescue Services support the programme, commonly by gifts in kind such as fire safety or road traffic collision safety input. In the 2013-14 the Fire and Rescue Service Team delivery partners delivered 20% of all Team programmes run by The Prince’s Trust in the UK, working with over 2,000 young people. Since the formation of the Team programme in 1990 it is estimated that the Fire and Rescue Service has engaged with 50,000 young people via this programme alone.
The Fire and Rescue Service also delivers other Trust programmes such as xl clubs which target young people in danger of exclusion from education, and the Get Started programme which targets those young people farthest from employment.