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A former fire cadet is calling on local businesses to back the scheme that helped him turn his life around. Without funding, the future of the London Fire Brigade’s cadet scheme is uncertain.
Stevie Clifford-Tucker, 20, from Newham was in trouble at school and under achieving before he got onto the LIFE and fire cadets courses and he believes it changed his life. Now an education officer at the Brigade, he is volunteering his time to give back to the scheme which helped him.
“I’m so grateful to the Brigade’s youth schemes because without them I could have easily got involved with the wrong crowd, dropped out of school, and had no career prospects.
“I’m now giving back by volunteering and I hope more people give up a little bit of their time as well. Now it’s time for businesses to help us bring the local community together for a course which has a huge impact on the lives of the young people.”
The cadet course aims to steer young people away from crime and get them back into education, training or employment. Successful cadets are awarded a BTEC in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community.
The British Chambers of Commerce recently revealed that while youth unemployment has improved, young people were almost three times more likely to be unemployed than members of the workforce as a whole.
The cadet course costs around £30,000 a year, with new courses needing an additional £12,000 to get the course up and running. The Department for Work and Pensions is fully funding the scheme in Haringey and the Brigade want others to follow suit. Alternatively, businesses can sponsor the cost of one young person at around £2,000. External investment is vital for the scheme’s long term future - without it the Brigade says it would struggle to continue.
Local volunteers help the Brigade keep the cost of the course down and increase community cohesion between the fire service and the local people. Volunteers give up at least one hour of their time each week and work alongside a small number of Brigade staff to make the course happen. The Brigade has around 50 volunteers from all walks of life, including bankers, chefs, shop workers and firefighters, but the service still needs more people to step forward and fire chiefs are urging anyone who is interested to get in touch.
The Brigade believes the fire cadet scheme offers huge benefits to the business community as it deters young people from crime and anti-social behaviour. The 2011 summer riots cost the UK retail sector around £300 million in damages and lost revenue.
The young people on the year long scheme are aged between 14 and 17. They are either not in education, employment or training (NEET), have had difficulty at school, have been excluded socially or educationally, are at risk of anti-social behaviour, or have little or no direction in life.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, said:
“Our work with London’s young people has reduced attacks on firefighters, brought communities together, and installed key skills that help them in the job market. At this tough financial time, however we cannot do this on our own and it’s fantastic that members of the public are helping us run the scheme.
“Local people are investing their time and now it’s the turn of London’s small, medium and large businesses to invest their money into our course, which is helping get young people off the street and into work.”
The Cadets scheme recently started in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Havering, Haringey, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. More courses are planned to start soon in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets.
Office for National Statistics have stated that there are almost 920,000 young unemployed people in the UK.
The young people are taught key life skills such as commitment, leadership and teamwork. They are also carry out operational drills including climbing ladders, using hose and wearing breathing apparatus.
Any organisation or business interested in funding the scheme should email.
Community Fire Cadets has received funding from Department of Community and Local Government’s Supporting Inclusion Programme, GLA’s YOU. Matter programme and government grants. The Brigade has also received funding from the Department for Work and Pensions and Youth United a voluntary youth organisation.
Volunteers will need to:
Be 18 years of age or over.
Be willing to commit to volunteering your time for a chosen number of evening sessions over a 12 month period
Undertake on going training which will be no more than seven days per year.
Preferably have worked with young people.