All hands to the pump
Bonfire Night stretches our fire service like no other time of year. But their job is not just about quenching flames.
Did you know that their remit also includes preventing fires, right down to collecting the wood that might be used in an arson offence!
Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership’s most recent – and welcomed – addition, Marie Morgan from the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service - explains more….
“The whole Bonfire Night period is a very difficult time for us – even more so than New Year. Apart from the fires, staff have fireworks thrown at them. I think it can be largely attributed to boredom, though some young people are also bullied into starting fires and causing disruption.
My role with the Prevention Department/Youth Engagement Service involves stopping these offences happening in the first place, by offering young people positive alternatives and making sure they take the right track. The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership funded Beacon and Healing programmes help achieve that.
Engagement is Marie’s realm
I have just finished delivering our Princes Trust Team Programme which is a 12-week personal development pre-employment programme working with 16-25yr olds who are NEET (not in education, employment, or training.) Many of the young people we help are in, or leaving, care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health issues, have been in trouble with the law or simply just lack confidence and have very low self-esteem.
It is an accredited qualification and a fantastic opportunity for young people to build their confidence and meet new people. From the first week on TEAM young people set their own targets to work towards in many areas that they wish to improve, so that they can find employment. We also help them develop key skills while boosting their confidence and motivation.
The young people take part in a four-day residential which includes activities such as abseiling, canoeing, climbing and much more. They look into fundraising to support themselves with a community project of their choice, as well as attending a two- week work placement.
The young people are referred to the Fire Service Princes Trust by organisations such as the Police and the Probation Service. Some of them have been involved in crimes or who have siblings who have offended.
Diffusing with the “bomby” squad
My prevention work gets very hands-on, and I will be helping the Arson Team this year, too.
Our prevention staff work in schools teaches people the dangers of setting fires, and provides resources warning of the damage playing with fireworks can do. But the team will also be called out to incidents where youths might be hanging around, to talk to them and encourage them not to get involved in criminal behaviour. We even collect the wood that might be used to make fires.
I have worked with young people for over 21 years and will be spending two days per week with the MVRP. I think creating safer communities comes down to prevention and keeping our young people off the streets and instead involved in positive activities.”