Prince's Trust National Liaison Officer for the Fire and Rescue Service, George Martin, gives a personal account of how he became involved with the Trust, outlining the benefits of becoming involved in the initiative:
I am currently seconded from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to The Prince's Trust, where I work with others in the fire sector to support thousands of disadvantaged young people across the UK.
The Prince's Trust is the UK's leading youth charity and helps young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to change their lives. The Trust has helped over 650,000 young people since being established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976.
In 1978, just two years after the formation of The Prince's Trust, I joined the Fire and Rescue Service and was initially stationed at Burnley as a firefighter.
I honestly feel that the Service saved me from myself. I did not shine at school, leaving with very few qualifications and going on to work in a local textile mill. Joining the Fire Service was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am sure I am not alone when I remember that my recruit's course came as a huge shock. However I soon recognised that I had joined a family - and a family that quickly helped me recognise the skills and abilities that were hidden within me through team work.
Helping Young People
With this background I was extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to manage the Prince's Trust Team Programme, which was to be run with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, in 2001. The Prince's Trust works with young people who have struggled at school or are long-term unemployed and gives them the skills and confidence to find a job. On meeting the young people who were taking part in the team programme I was reminded of my former self - a young person who needed help, guidance, direction and to be given a chance. I was proud to have the opportunity to help other young people who are facing the problems that I once did.
Time after time, the young people we help have so often been told they are useless and they end up believing this. They think no one cares what happens to them, so they in turn end up not caring themselves. From my experience, all these young people need is someone who believes in them, a helping hand and a second chance. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service was the first to work with The Prince's Trust in supporting disadvantaged young people. Now, from these humble beginnings, 15 fire and rescue services work with The Prince's Trust to deliver its team programme from as far north as Cumbria to as far south as Dorset. Together, they have helped 15,000 young people gain the skills and confidence to find work. Many other fire and rescue services support the team programme in other ways: seconding officers, offering fire safety training and offering work placements to unemployed young people.
Fire Service Opportunities
The team programme is beneficial not just to the young people that go through the scheme but also to the fire and rescue services themselves. The scheme gives the Fire Service the opportunity to engage closely with the communities it serves. It also offers the opportunity to support vulnerable young people, some of whom may have been unemployed in the long term or in trouble with the law in the past.
There are also excellent opportunities for fire and rescue staff development. Fire service employees have professional and personal skills that make them particularly well suited to be effective leaders and influential role models for young people. Through The Prince's Trust I have met many remarkable young people who - under the guidance of team leaders from the Fire Service - have turned their lives around and developed an amazing amount of confidence, skills and qualifications.
For more information on how you can work with the Prince's Trust to support unemployed young people, contact George Martin on tel: 07900 268701, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org