London’s businesses are being urged to help safeguard the London Fire Brigade’s youth cadet programme after funding cuts left the scheme’s future “uncertain”.
Designed to help young people turn away from crime and encourage them back into education, training or employment, the scheme rewards successful participants with a BTEC in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community.
One former cadet is calling on the capital’s businesses to help ensure young people continue to receive support and benefit from the scheme amid warnings that it’ll “struggle to continue” without external funding.
Stevie Clifford-Tucker credits the scheme with helping him avoid getting involved “with the wrong crowd” after he got into trouble at school.
Now an education officer at the Brigade, he wants businesses to consider donating towards the scheme’s £30,000 annual costs or to sponsor a single cadet for around £2,000 per year.
Mr Clifford-Tucker said: “I’m so grateful to the Brigade’s youth schemes because without them I could have easily got involved with the wrong crowd, dropped out of school, and had no career prospects.
“I’m now giving back by volunteering and I hope more people give up a little bit of their time as well. Now it’s time for businesses to help us bring the local community together for a course which has a huge impact on the lives of the young people.”
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson says the cadet programme plays a key role in helping reducing attacks by young people on firefighters as well as equipping youths with skills “that help them in the job market”.
But Mr Dobson said the prevailing “tough” financial climate meant the Brigade could no longer afford to run the scheme without the support of local businesses.