The power of the Prince Trust

A budding artist is praising the fire service for helping her find the confidence and passion to get her life back on track.

Indi Bennett has described her time with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) as “life-changing” after reaching a career crossroads.

The 19-year-old was unemployed and talking to a work coach at the local job centre when they recommended the fire service’s Prince’s Trust Team programme.

She was told how the 12-week course was designed to provide young people with skills that will help them in life – and with their search for work.

An anxious Indi decided to take the plunge and was left stunned when she arrived at Farringdon Community Fire Station and saw a familiar face in the classroom.

Her former Biddick Academy school teacher Cassie Murray was delivering her first course as instructor having gone through a career change herself.

Indi says the pair of them were able to support each other through the programme which has provided her with a host of skills to help her in the next stage of her life.

The Houghton-le-Spring native is now encouraging others to get involved in the next course starting in September.

Indi said “The experience was challenging but I wanted to get myself out there, I made great friends on the course.

“I’ve already recommended a few of my friends to get involved in the next course because of how much I enjoyed it.

“Getting out and about in the community is so much better than being sat at home with nothing to do – it made me feel proud of myself.

“I walked in on the first day and saw Cassie who used to be one of my teachers over at Biddick Academy, it was nice to see a familiar face on the first day and it settled my nerves.

“One of my favourite experiences on the course was when we went to a care home for part of our community project and I got talking to Shelia,

“She recently lost her husband but was talking so fondly about their time in Durham together that I thought it would be nice to draw a picture of Durham Cathedral for her.

“I had such a lovely time speaking with her and finding out about her life that I wanted to give her something so she could look at it and memories of her husband would flood back.

“I would have never met a woman like Shelia if I hadn’t done the Prince’s Trust Team programme and it really made my confidence in my artistic skill grow.

“Now I’m looking for a tattooing apprenticeship so I can give people permanent reminders of the things they love.”

The course pushes participants out of their comfort zone by taking part in teambuilding outward bounds residential course; a community project; a two-week work placement, and a next steps training week.

Throughout the course, young people like Indi also learn about first aid, drug and alcohol awareness, and take part in a variety of fire safety training activities – where they train alongside current serving firefighters.

Cassie, a Diversionary Activities Assistant Team Leader at TWFRS, said “It was a shock when Indi walked through that door on that first day but I knew she was going really enjoy the course.

“It gives young people across the region a chance to step back and find out what they want to do with their lives in a safe environment.

“And we have some great fun along the way, meeting people from all walks of life and learning from their experiences.”

The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 12-week programme ran by TWFRS in Community Fire Stations across the region.

The next course begins on 18th September in Washington, Farringdon, and on 11th September in South Shields.

The Prince’s Trust Team leaders are running taster sessions for those who are interested, on 23rd August at 10am at Washington Community Fire Station, and 30th August at 1pm at South Shields Community Fire Station.

You can visit the TWFRS website find out more information or to fill out their online form to sign up for the next course.

The course will not affect people’s ability to claim benefits, and the programme team will cover all travel costs (by bus or metro).

Under 19s can also apply for a student bursary to enable them to attend the course.