The London Fire Brigade is today calling on businesses to follow The Co-operative’s lead and help fund its flagship youth scheme.
The Co-operative has begun funding meals for the young people who attend the Brigade’s Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) at a cost of around £40,000 a year and the Brigade is now looking to tie up with more companies in a bid to put the scheme on a sustainable footing.
Young people taking part in the scheme will learn to use ladders, breathing apparatus and hoses, as well as developing casualty rescue techniques. The scheme is designed to improve young people’s discipline, confidence and team building skills.
The week long LIFE scheme, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year, was originally set up in Tower Hamlets to reduce anti-social behaviour directed at fire crews. The programme is targeted particularly at young people who have either offended or are not succeeding in mainstream education. Participants may also be suffering from low self-esteem or have been victims of crime.
A recent course in Tottenham gave eleven unemployed young people the opportunity to gain skills which will help them get into training, education or the workplace. The course cost £23,000 and was being jointly funded by the London Fire Brigade and Haringey Council. The Council’s ‘Haringey Guarantee’ employment scheme and the local Job Centre Plus selected the young adults for the course and will offer them work experience at the London Fire Brigade or other partner organisations.
Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Community Safety Committee, Cllr Susan Hall, said:
“By funding our scheme businesses will be investing in a programme that we know changes young peoples lives. The current economic climate means that our funding is very tight. Opening up this opportunity to businesses means they can help the London Fire Brigade make a real difference to communities across London.
“We know that our youth engagement programme works. London has one of the lowest rates of attacks on firefighters in the country and LIFE has played a major part in driving down this figure.”
David Parker, The Co-operative’s Regional Operations Director for the South East said:
“The Co-operative’s six million customer members have told us they want to be part of a business that is committed to supporting young people to become active citizens in their local communities.
“We are most proud to support The London Fire Brigade’s LIFE scheme as it helps nurture and develop the skills that lie within young people and opens up opportunities for them to change their world for the better.”
Since it began, nearly 5,000 young Londoners have benefited from the LIFE programme and there are now 12 LIFE centres across the capital taking referrals from organisations such as schools and working with young people from almost all London boroughs.
Notes for editors:
The award winning Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) has completed over 500 courses.
Activities carried out by teenagers on the LIFE programme include the use of ladders, breathing apparatus, casualty rescue techniques and hose line practice – all of which are designed to improve motivation, confidence and team building skills. Evaluations have shown that young people with a history of offending or anti-social behaviour are less likely to engage in this sort of behaviour after taking part.
The LIFE centres are based in Barking and Dagenham; Newham; Tower Hamlets; Islington; Brent; Sutton; Lambeth; Bexley and Camden. The success of LIFE in London has paved the way for similar schemes across the UK and seven other fire and rescue services are now using the scheme. It is also being adopted by New Zealand Fire Service.