Young offenders gain new skills in first Fire Cadet Programme behind bars

  • 27 Sep 2018 16:00

For the first time in a Secure Training Centre in the UK, young people in custody at G4S-managed HMP & YOI Parc in South Wales will take part in the Fire Cadet Programme, launched in partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS).  

Fire cadet at YOI Parc

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The programme, which is completed from within the Young Persons Unit, will provide participants with an insight into working within an emergency service, and, critically, the consequences of Deliberate Fire Setting and Anti-Social Behaviour.

Eight participants have been assessed and selected to be Cadets. They will wear the Fire and Rescue Service Cadet Uniform and will be required to attend regular practical drills and theory sessions in a timely and well-presented manner, which will help to improve self-discipline. The programme will culminate with a graduation ceremony and a series of Princes Trust qualifications.

We hope the launch of this programme will allow those who take part to strengthen their links with communities outside the YOI, while providing them with the opportunity to build on key personal skills. 
Jason Evans Head of the Young Person's Unit at HMP & YOI PArc
Jason Evans, Head of the Young Person’s Unit at HMP & YOI Parc said: “We hope the launch of this programme will allow those who take part to strengthen their links with communities outside the YOI, while providing them with the opportunity to build on key personal skills.

“Our staff have briefed the young people on what the expectations are around this programme, what it will involve and what they will get out of the training course, and the interest it has received so far has been positive.

“We will launch the programme with a class of just under ten, in order to ensure that the course runs effectively and with the best possible outcome for the young people.”

Many young people in the criminal justice system have experienced negative influences from gang-related activity. The course aims to teach them about the importance of teamwork and project building, while allowing them to develop their confidence and communications skills.

The programme will be led by qualified practitioners from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, accompanied at all times by staff from the Young Persons Unit, who will see the programme through from start to finish, allowing them to build positive relationships of trust with the young people enrolled.

Nicola Wheten, Youth and Volunteer Manager at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Youth Team are proud to present the first ever HMP Fire Cadet Branch.

“As a Service we aim to be as inclusive as we possibly can, creating opportunities for young people and creating change through positive intervention. A young person thrives on encouragement and a sense of belonging, which is definitely something our Fire Cadet Programme will offer to them. As they say, team work makes the dream work and here we will be creating a new family of Cadets who we hope will feel more confident in making more informed life choices in the near future.”

As a partnership, HMP & YOI Parc and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service believe that the young people who take part in this programme will demonstrate improved behaviours and social interactions with members of staff as well as their peers. Improving self-confidence and critical life skills are key steps in breaking the vicious cycle of reoffending, by assisting their rehabilitation and emphasising the importance of community engagement.

With positive adult leadership and guidance, this course aims to help deconstruct negative stereotypes about authority, and could inspire more young offenders to pursue future aspirations.

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