ACFO Peter O’Reilly from Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service Prevention and Protection Department looks at how GMFRS has built a brand that is especially attractive to our younger children and people:

Over the last ten years GMFRS has engaged children and young people to deliver many highly successful prevention strategies. During this time we have worked with many partners to offer schemes that develop young people and divert them away from activities which have negative consequences for communities, statutory agencies and of course the young people themselves.

One highly successful partnership has been with the Princes trust, who have found the Fire and Rescue Service to be an extremely effective delivery partner for their team programme.

This year GMFRS has added an extra element to this evolving pathway by taking part in the National Apprenticeship week and developing an apprenticeship offer around its Community Safety Advisor role, and consequently employed 12 young people directly from its youth engagement programmes.

Greater Manchester is now taking part in the National Apprenticeship week, and we are currently  the only FRS in the Northwest to take part in the National Apprenticeship Week, which forms part of the Brathay Challenge 2013.

The 12 Apprentices have been selected from Prince’s Trust and Cadets, will be a 12 months placement around the role as Community Safety Advisor. The qualification achieved will be Level 2 NVQ qualification in Customer service.

Here are the stories of two of our nominated apprentices:

BEFORE Francesca Martinelli joined a Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Princess Trust Team she was “bouncing around from job to job.”

Despite achieving high grades at A-Level Francesca didn’t think she was clever enough to go to university and suffered from low self-esteem because of her disability – cerebral palsy.

She said: “I had so many hang-ups about my disability I thought no one would listen to me because I’m disabled. I kind of gave up and became indifferent to things.” 

Francesca was unemployed when she saw an advert for GMFRS’ Princess Trust scheme in her local newspaper and fancied a new challenge.

She said: “I was a bit apprehensive about the physical side because of my disability and I wasn’t sure how I would fare when it got to the second week and we had to do a residential.

“As it turned out I completed it without a scratch on me. I did my two week placement at Whitehill Fire Station and I was hooked on everything fire service.”

After a short period volunteering for GMFRS Francesca applied for the CSA apprenticeship and was offered a place on the pilot scheme.

When I first found I’d got the job I was amazed I asked them on the phone ‘Are you sure?’ I’m really happy to be here and I’ve found that I’ve been getting a lot more respect from people,” she said.

Six months in GMFRS has transformed Francesca’s life-giving her direction and most importantly a sense of self-worth.

She said: “I’ve always wanted a job which could make me respected and give me self-respect because I’ve always had low self-esteem. This job has given me a lot more confidence.

“For someone like me when I walked down the street people used to push past, now they move out of the way - I’m amazed.

“It’s given me the confidence to just talk to people and I’d never do that before and I’d never put my ideas before somebody else.” 

Francesca has overcome the concerns she had about her disability. She refuses to rule herself out of anything and lives by her motto: “If I can do it I will. If I can’t I will ask for help.”

She has given a presentation to her colleagues about cerebral palsy to inform them about the condition and how to help any sufferers they encounter.

Francesca said: “It’s my brainchild and they’ve let me have free reign over it. It will give them the science behind cerebral palsy and my personal perspective of it.”

With her new found confidence Francesca hopes to stay in GMFRS and make the most of the opportunities the organisation has given her.

She said: “I see myself staying in the fire service after my apprenticeship – this is a career opportunity I don’t want to pass up. Hopefully I’ll still be here if not as a CSA I’d like be in HR admin, but I’d still like to get out there in the community.

“I was bullied a lot in school and I want the bullies to see I’ve made something of my life.” 

WHEN Will Hartley snapped a ligament in his knee playing football, the worse year of his life began and his career as a brick layer lay in ruins.

During months of treatment and rehabilitation Will endured operations, a recurrence of his injury and three months confined to his bed.

He said: “I was off work for 16 months and I was bed bound for three months. I was on morphine tablets and everything, it was horrible.

“Then I did all the rehab, got myself better and it snapped again and I had to have more operations. I was inside for months, I couldn’t go out, see people or do anything – it was the worse year of my life.”

Once Will was back on his feet he turned to one of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Princes’ Trust Teams to ease him back into normal life.

“I wanted to go on the Princes’ Trust just to get back into things and get into a routine. Start speaking to people again, do some activities and get some confidence.

“The Princes’ Trust was life changing for me, it made me realise more about myself and opened my eyes a lot. I was lucky we had a really good team.”

Will applied for a place on the CSA apprenticeship scheme and was accepted. He said: “I’ve learnt loads of stuff and I love coming to work now.

“I’ve changed quite a lot, I put myself in other people’s shoes a lot more. When I go to some houses I realise how lucky I am.

“My parents are really proud of me. As a brick layer I was at the top of my level and I wasn’t going to go anywhere else.

“I’m happy now I’m in a job where I can go higher up a career ladder and not building walls for the rest of my life.”

A measure of how well Will has done in his new job is the fact he made it down to the final few from 400 applicants for a full-time CSA role with GMFRS – just six months into his apprenticeship.

He said: “I got an interview for a job as a CSA and the lady said I did really well, but I didn’t get the job. It just came down to experience. There should be more opportunities at the end of my apprenticeship.

“I was pleased with my interview, everything I was asked I have experienced as an apprentice.” 

Will hopes to continue working with GMFRS after his apprenticeship and his success with his last application has given him the confidence and desire to secure a CSA role with GMFRS in the future. 


GMFRS is currently  the lead, working with Skills for Fire and Rescue, to develop a Community Safety Qualification to support the apprenticeship framework, the first of its kind within an emerging industry. This has generated huge interest nationally  and we will be holding a conference with speakers from the National Apprenticeship Service, Skills for Fire and Rescue and Prince’s Trust.  The Conference held on March 20, will bring together FRS’s from all over the UK as well as partners such as GMP, Salford City College, Lancashire University - click here for more information