Corporate sponsors are being sought for a flagship youth scheme run by the London Fire Brigade.
The Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) scheme was set up in 2002 by the London Fire Emergency and Planning Authority, the body which oversees the Brigade.
Since then around 5,000 young people have taken part in the week-long series of activities designed to improve motivation, confidence and team building skills.
The scheme is targeted at those youngsters who have offended or are not succeeding in mainstream education. Some of those taking part have been referred by the probation and social services.
The Brigade and LFEPA are looking for companies to provide funding and help “put the scheme on a sustainable footing.”
The Co-operative has already signed-up to provide free meals for attendees, support which is worth more than £40,000 to the scheme.
David Parker, The Co-operative’s Regional Operations Director for the South East said his organisation “are most proud to support The London Fire Brigade’s LIFE scheme as it helps nurture and develop the skills that lie within young people and opens up opportunities for them to change their world for the better.”
Appealing for companies to support the scheme LFEPA’s Community Safety Chair Cllr Susan Hall, said: “By funding our scheme businesses will be investing in a programme that we know changes young peoples lives.
“The current economic climate means that our funding is very tight. Opening up this opportunity to businesses means they can help the London Fire Brigade make a real difference to communities across London.
“We know that our youth engagement programme works. London has one of the lowest rates of attacks on firefighters in the country and LIFE has played a major part in driving down this figure.”
In September LFEPA Chair Brian Coleman told the London Assembly that City Hall “has not provided us with a single penny of direct funding” for the scheme.
Councillor Coleman said LFEPA had committed £1m from its reserves but needed outside funding to do more.
Addressing Assembly Members in the aftermath of last summer’s riots, Coleman said: “I am constantly encouraged by the work of LIFE and I would hope that, perhaps, some of the younger looters and rioters that we have seen could benefit. Never mind a week in Wandsworth prison. A week on the LIFE course would probably be as much benefit.”