Shedding some light on Beacon
By Marie Morgan, Fire Service Lead, Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership
“A pleasing result in a post programme analysis is especially encouraging when it means changed lives and safer communities.
The Beacon project has done just that, increasing the confidence and life chances of some of those on the cusp of antisocial behaviour and strengthening communities by improving respect between young people and the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
There were areas for improvement, including the longevity of funding and because of the lockdown, no face-to-face presentation ceremonies this time. But, if you will pardon the pun, this scheme has left us “glowing.”
Rising from the ashes
Beacon was resurrected thanks to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership with the aim of re-engaging primary and secondary school children in education, teaching them practical skills with fun activities (though a rat run and rescuing a dummy from a smoking house may on the face of it sound unappealing!)
Between April and December 2021, we worked with 126 primary school children plus a secondary school. The participants spent one day per week during term time, learning teambuilding talents and becoming imbued with a new sense of achievement. Skills for life such as road and water safety and first aid made our young charges shining beacons, able to share their knowledge with other members of the community.
Turning down the right road
Some of those placed on the course had experienced previous trauma, had grown-up in care, and were generally exhibiting the traits of a child on the journey to antisocial behaviour and even crime. That could include hoax calling or even setting fires, so you could see why Community Fire Stations swung-open their doors to the scheme.
The evaluation conducted by The Public Institute at Liverpool John Moores University noted a general satisfaction with the programme, with teachers reporting a decent drop in challenging behaviour and truancy. Perhaps the biggest impact though, was felt at home, with some parents expressing amazement that such a short course could provoke such a positive change.
Beacon in many ways is a classic MVRP led programme in that it used a public health approach to intervention and education in order to improve the life chances of young people.
But Beacon had some added bonuses too, not least a new found bond between young people and the uniform services. Rebuilding that faith and smashing perverse myths about law enforcement was a marvellous achievement. Especially at a time where some would tell you, wrongly, that that relationship has broken down.”
Read the full Beacon evaluation report at https://merseysidevrp.com/media/1456/evaluation-of-the-beacon-project-march-2022-002.pdf