Operational crews - why get involved?

By a Watch Manager from Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service.

My initial views on the Prince’s Trust Team Programme at King’s Lynn before involvement was commonly sounded around watches, and had the pre conceived idea that the participants were all worthless little tyrants just at the fire station on a jolly, looking to see what they could rob!! On taking on the challenge of ‘coming on board’ my views were quickly changed.

My Involvement:

I was lucky enough to get involved with NF&RS 21st ‘Team Programme’, which was due to the Team Leader being on his own for the initial ‘come try the Team Programme day’. This day consisted of some team building tasks, personal interaction and general routine tasks of such like days. At this point my opinion was still unchanged and stayed like this until the point where each individual had to be interviewed by their peers as well as the staff.

There were several questions, but the one that really hit home on how many of these young people could benefit from a little time and patience (something I generally struggle on!) if offered to them Was... ‘‘How do you think the challenge of the ‘Team Programme’ can change your life’’?

The answers the youngsters gave were honest, open and heartfelt, and made me realise just how lucky I have been during my life.
When you have a nineteen year old stating that ‘this is their last chance’ and ‘to achieve this will be the first thing they have ever achieved’ and ‘my life is s**t’, it really makes you sit up and pay attention.

A team member receiving a certificate from a FirefighterI decided then to help out firstly if required and secondly if time allowed. I volunteered my services and was immediately invited onto week two of the course, ‘The Residential’.

This saw the ‘Team’ living away from their usual environments, be it either home, a care home, a caravan or the streets. The week consisted of team building, problem solving, hikes, map reading, cooking, and focused around general life building skills. It took them away from their usual environments, consisting of perhaps drugs, alcohol, miss guiding friends, abusive family members (mental or physical) and gave them the opportunity to try new activities, socialise with new people and take responsibility for their own actions in a controlled and safe environment.

I cannot say at times this was not challenging, however it was a great chance for some reflective time and self development.

The course ran the remainder of its time. The weeks consisted of such things as, fund raising initiatives, work placements, voluntary work, college courses. Each little step helping them to gain more confidence and belief in themselves.Due to the course being run from the station it was often the case that the watches would get involved and show support and offer guidance if and when asked.  Watches at King's Lynn are now regularly involved in ‘Team Programme’, helping with charity events, team building exercises and supporting the crucial work that the NF&RS Youth Development carry out.

So why should you get involved?

Out of all the activities the young people get involved with a common answer to a regular posed question should perhaps give you the answer to the above question…

The question asked is…

What part of the ‘Team Programme’ did you enjoy the most, and helped develop your personal confidence?

The answer quite simply….…‘Working with the firemen’

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