THE future of youth programmes which help to drive down the number of anti-social behaviour-related fires on Wearside have been secured.
Discussions had taken place among members of the Fire Authority about the future funding of two activities which support the work of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) in Sunderland - the Phoenix programme and the Princes Trust programme.
The Phoenix programme is commissioned by Youth Offending Teams to work with young offenders or those at risk of offending to prevent or reduce re-offending.
Activities focus on self-awareness, social responsibility and self-discipline through fire related and non-fire related activities.
The Princes Trust programme is a 12-week course with fire and community safety elements, commissioned through local Further Education colleges to reduce the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training.
The future of the activities has now been secured through joint working with a number of partners.
The decision to continue providing the programmes was made at a meeting of the Fire Authority this week.
Working alongside the Fire Authority, Sunderland City Council will be commissioning Phoenix activities until 2015-16, while Sunderland College and the Springboard Trust will commission Princes Trust programmes allowing these courses to be delivered at Farringdon and Washington fire stations.
The Fire Authority will continue to monitor the sustainability of the projects.
Chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership and deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Harry Trueman, said: “The Phoenix Project has made a massive difference to the lives of so many young people and their families in Sunderland, and will continue to do so with our combined support. Training and work alongside the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is an experience that they will never forget.
“It also provides a fantastic opportunity for a young person to develop and demonstrate the teamwork, commitment, enthusiasm and individual abilities that they are all capable of, and which better equips them for adult life.”
Chairman of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, Coun Tom Wright was pleased with the announcement.
He said: “I am delighted that the Fire Authority decided to continue to support these activities.
“There is no doubt that they are a key part of our prevention work and help to prevent fires and other anti-social behaviour from happening in the first place.
“I am delighted that partners have recognised their success and in doing so are providing funding to support them.
“It’s key that with the budget cuts we continue to face, organisations work in partnership to keep providing activities that make such a difference.”