An aspiring firefighter who was at a career crossroads has praised a fire service-led course for putting his life back on track.
For Nathan McVeigh, white water rafting and giving back to the community were two things that didn’t usually go hand in hand.
But on the Princes Trust Team programme with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) he found a way to inspire himself to do more.
Nathan was out of work and struggling to find a job that would fulfil his desire to give back to the community.
The ambitious 20-year-old’s dream was to become a firefighter but he knew he needed to grow as a person to make that happen.
So he decided to apply for the Princes Trust programme to build life skills and understand what it took to be part of a team.
Now Nathan has nothing but praise for the course and says he shook away a lack of confidence to dive into a string of activities.
The Washington native says he spent 12 weeks working together with people across his local area to give back to his community.
Nathan said the course also gave him the opportunity to take part in a variety of fire safety training activities – alongside current serving firefighters.
“It did push me out of my comfort zone but it was great to see other people on the course overcome their fear with the help of the group,” said Nathan.
“We all became more confident over the 12 weeks and we’ve definitely made friends for life, I still speak to some of them now.
“If you’ve got the opportunity to take part, I’d say go for it – it was definitely not what I’d thought it would be but I’m glad I did it.”
And today (Thursday) TWFRS’s Diversionary Activities Manager, John Anderson, is encouraging more young people like Nathan onto the course.
He said: “It great to see the positive effect that the course has had on Nathan, not only did he push himself out of his comfort zone during this experience but he supported those on his course that might not have been as confident as he was.
“The comradery on the programme is phenomenal, the young people really do band together and figure out how to get the best out of the course.
“And they also give back to their community during their community project as well as learning vital skills like first aid and drug and alcohol awareness.
“We are so proud to deliver this course to the region and I would encourage anyone who is looking for a new challenge and aged 16-24 to come along and take part.
“You can gain so much by simply just taking that first step and getting in touch.”
The next course begins on 26th September in Washington and Farringdon, if you are interested you can call or text the word FIRE to 07584006913.
The course will not affect people’s ability to claim benefits, and all travel costs (by bus or metro) will be covered by the programme team.
Under 19s can also apply for a student bursary to enable them to attend the course.