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Colchester Youth Project looks to Essex Fire Service to inspire self-confidence and teamwork

Date issued: 16 February 2018

A group of young people from the Greenstead Estate in Colchester have taken part in a special team-building course at Colchester Fire Station.

The twelve youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, undertook the week-long Firebreak course as participants of the Colchester Youth Project, a joint venture between Colchester Borough Council and Colchester Borough Homes, which aims to promote good citizenship, improve self-confidence and teach a range of important life skills.

The Colchester Youth Project began in June 2017 and runs until August this year. Over the course of the project, young people learn about the dangers associated with gang culture, drugs and alcohol, and consider the problem of homelessness and the importance of mental health and wellbeing. They also get to explore the benefits of sensible budgeting and healthy eating, undertake team-building exercises at East Mersea Youth Camp and Tollesbury, enjoy sports sessions with Colchester United FC and work closely with the elderly.

The Firebreak course, delivered by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, aims to develop young people's life skills, build confidence and teach them the value of teamwork. Participants undertake a series of challenging firefighter tasks including using powerful water hoses, wearing specialist breathing apparatus, climbing ladders and rescuing casualties from a two-storey building, as well as join in a number of discussion-focused workshops.

The five-day course ends with a special passing out ceremony, where the young cadets show their proud families and friends some of the skills they have learned and are presented with a certificate of achievement. An additional portfolio of certificates and personal testimonials may also be awarded for good attendance and punctuality, fire safety awareness, first aid, water safety and teamwork.

Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Public Safety and Licensing, said: "I would like to congratulate all of the young people who took part in this week's Firebreak course.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for them to find out about the work of the Fire Service and how, by developing confidence to make the right decisions for themselves, they can also make a real and lasting difference in the community.

"By learning about fundamental principles of leadership, teamwork and motivation, those taking part will hopefully have acquired a greater sense of self-esteem, self-discipline and personal responsibility, which are invaluable life skills to take forward into their future lives."

Karen Williams, Head of Housing at Colchester Borough Homes, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that our Community Fund grant to the Colchester Youth Project is giving young people the opportunity to experience the brilliant Firebreak course and to benefit from the essential knowledge and skills it teaches.

"This is just what the Community Fund is all about: inspiring people to become better role models, to help one another and ultimately to bring communities closer together."

Donna Finch MBE, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service's Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, said: "Our Firebreak programme is continuing to prove a fantastic success in offering young people the opportunity to learn skills that will serve them well throughout their lives, including teamwork, punctuality and of course fire safety.

"This group of young adults have shown great maturity during their week with us and I would like to congratulate them on demonstrating such commitment in achieving the accreditation - they should all be very proud of themselves."