A group of eleven teenage girls benefited from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service’s SPARC programme during October.

Hosted at Weymouth Fire Station, the course targeted girls aged between 12 and 16 who had been referred by local schools and youth work professionals.

SPARC is a tailored development programme designed to promote empowerment in a positive environment, whilst also encouraging team work and the supporting of others. The five-day course was a bespoke programme designed to meet a local need that had been identified by local professionals almost a year ago.

The programme aimed to build confidence and show the participants that it’s ok to feel anxious about taking on new challenges and, that with a bit of support and a few coping techniques, they can achieve their goals. The week culminated in a ‘pass out’ display where the group demonstrated their newly gained skills through practical scenarios and received their crtificates of achievement from Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell.

Rob Guy, Youth Intervention Manager at Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, explained: “The course was a huge success, with all 11 young people completing the five days and gaining an AQA Award in Fire Service Youth Training. Prior to starting, the young people had the opportunity to tell us their hopes and fears for the week, and most said ‘anything to do with heights’. Despite their reservations, they all climbed the 13.5 metre ladder and went up in the cage of the aerial ladder platform, which extends to 32 metres.”

He added: “This was an example of excellent partnership working. The need for positive activities for this cohort had been identified at the Weymouth and Portland Health and Wellbeing Forum, and we thank Weymouth Town Council for providing some funding to enable this course to happen. We are indebted to Dorset Council’s Chesil Family Partnership Zone, who recruited eligible young people for the course and also provided a youth worker throughout the week to help support the girls. We also received support from Dorset Mind, in the form of one of their volunteers who attended all five days to help us embed emotional wellbeing sessions throughout the week – we can’t thank them enough for their commitment and expertise.”