Safer People And Responsible Communities (SPARC) helps communities in Dorset by working proactively with young people aged between 12 and 17.
The course is designed for young people who have:
- offended or are at risk of offending;
- been excluded from school or are at risk of being excluded from school;
- been subjected to crime, bullying, domestic violence etc.
The project is delivered by specially trained firefighters and the main aim is to provide intervention for young people whose lives may be following an undesirable or inappropriate path, whether this involves anti-social behaviour, offending, being excluded from school, or withdrawing from life by some degree. We provide an intensive five-day work experience within a disciplined and focused team environment.
Each individual is given personal responsibility for the management and maintenance of the fire engine they use during the course, its firefighting equipment and their own personal protective equipment (PPE), under the guidance of instructors.
The course is specifically designed to challenge the attitude, outlook and behaviours of the young people by getting them to:
- Adopt a new set of personal values;
- Understand the consequences of anti-social or risky behaviour;
- Work co-operatively with others in a team environment;
- See the advantages of improving their learning and performance;
- Gain self-esteem and self-confidence; and
- Improve communication skills.
The ratio of firefighters to students is a maximum of one to three, which means a significant relationship can be established – increasing the chance that any advice given is listened to and acted upon. Each young person completing the course gains a more positive view of themselves and what they can achieve.
Why it works
Statistics show that almost half of all crime is committed by young people between the ages of 13 and 21. As a Fire & Rescue Service, we feel we have a lot to offer in terms of our standing within the community, as we are a well-structured organisation with self-disciplined staff who can serve as positive role models to young people.
In addition to the intervention aspect, the course increases awareness of the work we do. The SPARC Project allows young people to experience what it is like to be an operational firefighter. This gives a good basis for understanding the many needless and avoidable incidents that the emergency services attend on a daily basis.
Over the five days of the course, each young person gains:
- firefighting skills;
- team building skills;
- greater self-esteem;
- certification of achievements;
- fire and safety awareness; and
- possible career opportunities.
For further information, email [email protected]