The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold (OPFCC) and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service have run a pilot programme for girls promoting confidence and resilience.
It saw 11 girls from Kettering Buccleuch Academy selected to attend a two-day pilot course at Kettering Fire Station last month. The girls, who were all aged between 12 and 15, took part in some practical elements with the Fire Service. This included getting kitted up in fire gear and doing some training drills that are usually carried out by real firefighters, as well taking on a ‘rat run’ – an obstacle course in the pitch black which encourages communication and teamwork.
The girls also observed the fire crew and their engine get called out to an emergency incident from the Kettering station and took part in a road traffic collision scenario which encouraged them to think about safety and first aid.
Members of the Early Intervention and Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Team from the OPFCC meanwhile delivered classroom-based sessions on inspirational women as well as how to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to deal with their mental, physical and social wellbeing.
The girls were selected by Kettering Buccleuch Academy as young people who would benefit from attending the course, which was delivered in its entirety by women who work for both the OPFCC and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The course gave the girls the opportunity to meet, communicate and gain confidence from interacting with positive women role models, as well as to equip them with the skills and confidence to deal with issues that occur throughout their life.
Michelle Bates is the Youth Engagement Officer for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and is the Unit Commander for the specialist Fire Cadets.
She said: “It was fantastic to see the girls come out of their shell as the day progressed. They seemed to really enjoy the practical aspects and it was great to talk to them about being a woman in the fire service and that it’s a job that they could definitely do if they wanted to.”
Stephen Mold, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, added: “We have a very close working relationship with Kettering Buccleuch Academy, and this pilot programme came about after we visited the school and heard some of the accounts of harassment that some girls had already encountered in their lives.
“Every girl and woman has the right to feel safe and confident and should never have to be subjected to that kind of behaviour. I hope this pilot course proved useful in terms of building their resilience and that they can now feel empowered to call out negative behaviour when they have identified it. We also have to ensure that there is a genuine discussion about appropriate behaviour by men.”
The OPFCC is one of several partners to launch the It Only Takes One campaign across Northamptonshire, which encourage people to recognise and call out harassment, to start a conversation with men, and to challenge inappropriate attitudes and behaviour towards women.
It has also resulted in physical improvements such as CCTV help points and Safer Routes for walking, which has been funded through the OPFCC and other partners thanks the Government’s Safer Women at Night fund. Find out more at www.itonlytakesone.org.uk