18th March 2014
Firefighter Stephen Riddell and Firefighter Billy Holland, Unit Leaders of Perry Bar Fire Cadets, are passionate advocates of the opportunities the scheme offers young people.
Stephen says, “The Fire Cadets programme gives these young people the opportunity to dispel the negative stereotype of young people in this area by giving them the chance to engage with local people. Activities such as litter picks and assisting older members of the community has opened the eyes of both the young people and wider community and shows what can be achieved. The programme is benefitting the young people in so many ways and will help them to gain new skills that will be attractive to employers”.
For the Cadets in Perry Bar, these opportunities could make all the difference. Aged between 12 and 16, the majority of young people in this unit have struggled with mainstream education and were recruited from the local Youth Inclusion Panel.
Funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government through Youth United’s Supporting Inclusion Programme enabled a group on the verge of closing to re-launch under the National Fire Cadets Model. Almost six months later the group is going strong, positively engaging 18 young people. The funding enabled the purchase of new uniforms which are a source of real pride for the Cadets.
Fire Cadets place a strong emphasis on serving the local community and the members of Perry Bar Fire Cadets have thrown themselves into activities such as a food bank project in partnership with a local supermarket. The Cadets asked shoppers to buy one extra tin, to support members of the community who would be in need over the Christmas period. They managed to fill an entire fire engine full of donated food that they were able to pass on to the local food bank.
Stephen Riddell reports real improvements in their behaviour and is proud of what the Cadets have achieved in only six months. They have even made a film of their efforts which you can watch here.
Andrew, 16, is training to be a young leader and help other Fire Cadets. He puts it simply, “I really enjoy being part of the fire cadets. Wearing the uniform makes me feel proud and we do some really good things in the community”.