Fire Champions programme rolls out in schools to strengthen community resilience


Children across Merseyside will have the chance to embark on a brand-new early intervention programme focused on helping them to stay safe.

Funded by Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, Fire Champions is a unique six-week programme for primary school pupils in years five and six, delivered by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, working in partnership with Merseyside Police and the North West Ambulance Service.

After a successful pilot back in July at Nutgrove Methodist School in Thatto Heath, the programme is now being rolled out across the region, with two schools taking part across Merseyside every term and sessions being tailored to issues the young people are facing in their local area.

The first two schools set to take part in the programme, getting underway this week, are Banks Road Primary in Garston and St Marie’s Primary in Kirkby.

The health and wellbeing sessions will educate young people on subjects such as fire, road and water safety, arson, anti-social behaviour, hate crime and first aid, encouraging children through physical activity rather than classroom-based learning.

The awareness-raising workshops are designed to challenge preconceptions, spark meaningful conversations and secure trust, by building relationships and breaking down any barriers young people may have with blue light services.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Investing in our young people is vital if we are to prevent serious violence and anti-social behaviour, and we can do that by giving them safe, positive opportunities and the chance to try new experiences and gain new skills. 

Through the use of sport, fitness and mental health development, we are not only diverting young people from engaging in criminal or violent activity, but we are also improving their physical and mental health, empowering them with greater self-awareness, constructive coping strategies and a positive mind set for the future to help them reach their full potential.

“These sessions are a new way of engaging our young people, through safe and positive learning we want to open up dialogue between blue light services and young people before they reach high school, to promote responsible behaviour and educate them on the dangers of common issues we see too often in our communities.”

Director of the MVRP, Superintendent Georgie Garvey added: “Early intervention like this is essential so that we can form new relationships with young people, building community resilience through open and honest communication.

“Our aim is to keep children safe and away from risky situations in their community. By getting children to identify and understand when they feel unsafe, they can then stay in control of the situation, strengthening their protection factors while building self-esteem and confidence.

“Fire Champions ensures they can begin this journey with the right ideals, renewed confidence and aspirational levels that will put them on the right path to a brighter future.” 

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS), Station Manager Nick Rogan said: “Our aim is for those taking part to leave the programme as "Fire Champions", with a message to spread through the school, at home with families, friends and across their communities.

“From the sessions we’ve held so far, we have been able to build relationships with the children. We are so pleased they enjoyed the sessions and crucially understood and took away those key community safety and life lesson messages.”