A PARTNERSHIP is helping to drive down antisocial behaviour in the city and give teenagers the chance to improve their lives.
Young people between the ages of 11 and 17 who are known offenders or have been identified as likely to offend in the future are being given the chance to develop and improve their life skills thanks to the fire brigade and Sunderland AFC.
The initiative has been formed between the successful Phoenix Project (a partnership run between Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the Sunderland Youth Offending Services) and the Foundation of Light’s Kickz programme.
Football coaching classes at the Seaburn Centre in Sunderland are followed by information sessions provided by Foundation staff covering issues that affect teenagers such as drugs and alcohol, knife crime and sexual health.
In return, the youngsters on the Kickz programme can attend two-day sessions run by the Phoenix Project so they can experience the world of firefighting.
Louise Stafford, who has taken part in the programme, said: “I enjoyed the Phoenix Project as it helped me improve my confidence and team-building skills.
“It has enhanced my knowledge of fire awareness and health and safety procedures.
“I conquered my fear of darkness and understand why it’s important not to panic in emergency situations.”
Watch manager John Ord, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “Phoenix students who experience working with SAFC during the sessions have expressed how much they enjoy their time at the Seaburn Centre and how they can use what they learn in their day-today lives.
“As Phoenix instructors, it is also a pleasure to work with the youngsters from the Kickz programme. They are very committed and work well as a team.
“They bring an enthusiasm to the course and a determination to do well.
“Over the years they have proved to be an excellent example of what you can achieve when you try hard enough and are an inspiration to others in their community.”