Phoenix fire project raises hopes of young
Firefighters in Cornwall are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the fire services' youth and community engagement scheme, the Phoenix Project.
During a recent ceremony at the Maritime Museum in Falmouth, fire service staff, partner organisations and youngsters who have taken part in the initiative over the years gathered to pop the champagne.
Over the past decade more than a thousand young people aged between 13 and 17-years-old have taken part in courses at fire stations around Cornwall.
The aim of the project is to improve self esteem, communication skills and team work.
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Participants are then enrolled onto a six-month mentoring programme with the Phoenix team.
During the celebration event, Des Tidbury, chief fire officer for the county said the project had proved a worthwhile venture.
He said: "Cornwall was one of the first fire services to introduce the Phoenix Project, having witnessed a similar scheme run in Tyne and Wear.
"Firefighters are great role models and the team work and self discipline our courses teach can help redirect what can often be challenging behaviour.
"Since 2002 the programme has gone from strength to strength and is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated Phoenix team.
"I am delighted we are able to celebrate the tenth anniversary – the programme has continually evolved over the last ten years and has had a positive impact on the lives of many people."
Kerry Elliott, a teacher from Richard Lander School, Truro said: "The Phoenix Project fitted in with the needs of the school and, most importantly, the needs of our students.
"The first course we took part in five years ago, brought together a group of teenage boys who were heading in the direction of joining the 'Not in Education, Employment or Training' statistic when they left school.
"It was clear early intervention was needed.
"The course instilled an enthusiasm in the boys that I'd never seen before and this, and the follow-up mentoring, led to improvement in grades and behaviour.
"Without the Phoenix Project, life would have been very different for this group of boys."
Carolyn Webster from Jobcentre Plus, which funds the Phoenix Works courses for jobseekers praised the scheme.
She said: "Phoenix Works has become a great push that really adds to the support we can give people in their journey back to work.
"We see a dramatic change in such a short space of time with an increase in motivation and a desire to succeed."