Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating two decades of delivering The Prince’s Trust Team programme, an inspiring partnership project that has seen thousands of young people pass through its doors.
To mark this special anniversary the Service held a gala dinner at Chester Racecourse, which was attended by a host of dignitaries, celebrities and people who had played a key role in the success of the programme over the years. In addition the event saw a number of past team members return to share their experience of how the course had helped transform their lives.
Paul Hancock, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer said: “It was a great evening and so nice to be able to look back and reflect on what has been a wonderful project that has made a difference to the lives of so many. We were the first fire and rescue service in the country to become a Prince’s Trust programme delivery partner we are immensely proud of our involvement with The Prince’s Trust and the benefits it is bringing the young people, their families and the wider community.
“I would like to thank everyone who has worked with the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and The Prince's Trust Team programme over the past 20 years and may we continue to inspire and encourage young people together for many decades to come.”
The Team programme is a 12-week personal development scheme which helps unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds build the skills and confidence they need to get a job.
The event, which was hosted by Prince’s Trust Ambassador and ITV weather presenter Claire Nasir and her husband BBC Radio 6 music presenter Chris Hawkins, featured a video message from His Royal Highness Prince Charles, which thanked the Service for the work it had done over the last 20 years.
Other guests included the Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP, Cheshire’s Lord Lieutenant, David Briggs and rugby player James Roby.
Minister for Fire Brandon Lewis MP attended the event. He said: “I was delighted to attend this event and join in the celebrations of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service celebrating delivering The Prince’s Trust programme for 20 years.
“I very much recognise the value of the work fire and rescue authorities undertake in engaging with children and young people. I know that these programmes can help develop the confidence, skills and attitudes that young people need to become more engaged with their communities and to become active and responsible citizens.”
The event would not have been complete without the presence of some of the young people who had benefitted from the Team programme. Fiona Morris, a former team member gave an inspiring speech at the event.
She said: “The programme was ideal for me as it helped to build my confidence and self-esteem,” says Fiona “Learning about the other young people's diverse problems and individual difficulties taught me that I was not alone, and as a group we began to draw inspiration from each other.
“I joined The Prince's Trust course at a very vulnerable time in my life. Luckily I found the support I needed. I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to succeed if I hadn't met so many wonderful people who believed I could achieve anything.”
The Service hopes to continue its work with The Prince’s Trust for many more years to come.
Chief Fire Officer Hancock added: “What we have achieved so far has been fantastic. However, while it is nice to celebrate the past 20 years we know we must keep looking to the future as there are many more young people out there who could benefit from our help.”
Jonathan Townsend, Regional Director for The Prince’s Trust in the North of England, said: “There are still one in five young people who are currently struggling to find a job across the UK. The Team programme can be a vital lifeline for those out of work, giving them the confidence and skills to find employment. We have been very fortunate to have the continued support of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, who have transformed so many young lives in the area over the past 20 years. We look forward to working with them again in the future.
For more information on how to get involved in a Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Prince’s Trust Team Programme or to become a future team member visit www.cheshirefire.gov.uk