Phoenix Programme

The Sunderland Phoenix Programme was established in 2000 in partnership between the Sunderland Youth Offending Service  and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

It was set up in response to the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act which stated that reducing crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour was not just a police problem and local authority organisations should do more to address these issues. This was amended in 2003 to place a specific responsibility on fire and rescue services to take part.

The Phoenix Programme is funded by Together for Children (Early Help) in Sunderland and has developed significantly since it was launched. Its aims are to increase:

  • confidence and self-esteem
  • discipline and self-discipline
  • team working and social skills
  • positive attitudes and good behaviour

It aims to create empathy for the Fire and Rescue Service and teaches young people to understand the dangers of fire, fire-setting and hoax calls.

The programme offers three courses for young people aged 11 to 16 that are referred through the Early Help Allocations team and their family support services (such as Youth Offending Service, schools, pupil referral units and Wear Kids). We use the neutral status of the fire service and the firefighter role model to achieve these aims.


1. Phoenix Aspire

The first course in the programme is the Phoenix Aspire course.

On this four day course, students put on fire kit and take part in practical training and teamwork based on the role of a firefighter.

At the end of the course, there is a presentation and drill where students perform in front of their families and receive certificates from the Mayor of Sunderland and Senior Fire Officers.

2. Phoenix Respect

To meet attendance criteria students must stay out of trouble with the police, parents and school, but also demonstrate improved behaviour with peers, at home and in school.

This is a two day practical course, which follows on from Phoenix Aspire.

3. Phoenix Pride

The third course in the programme is Phoenix Pride, a three day course where students attend an overnight stay at an outdoor activity centre.

Like with the Respect course, students must meet the criteria to attend. This course celebrates the achievements of the young people through practical, fun, teamwork activities, but also includes covers health, safety, wellbeing and anti-social behaviour reduction.

Phoenix Programme success

An independent study demonstrated that 92% of young people who complete the full Phoenix programme did not offend or ‘get into serious trouble’ in the following 12 months.

In 2010 the Programme won three National Training Awards including overall winner of the year 2010 in the Partnership and Collaboration category. Judges said that the Phoenix Programme was “a truly life changing initiative”.

Contact us

For more information, contact the Phoenix Programme Team on 0191 444 1286 or 0191 444 1287.