A GROUP of young people in Colchester have taken part in a special course designed to build relationships between the military and civilian communities in Colchester.

Firebreak, which was held at Wivenhoe Fire Station, is specially designed to develop young people’s life skills, build their confidence and teach them the value of team work.

Participants undertake a series of challenging firefighter tasks including using powerful water hoses, wearing specialist breathing apparatus, climbing ladders and rescuing casualties from a two-storey building. The week-long course finishes with a ‘pass-out ceremony’ where the young people show their proud families and friends some of the skills they have learned during the course.

The course was organised with Colchester Garrison thanks to a £20,000 grant from the Armed Forces Covenant. The Covenant has funded five courses delivered by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, which will see a total of 60 children from military and civilian families take part before the start of school summer holidays.

Donna Finch MBE, ECFRS community development and safeguarding manager, said: “We tailored this course to bring together primary and secondary school children from military and civilian families and to help build their relationships. It can be a difficult time for any child to move from primary to secondary school, so we have designed this course to boost their confidence and build relationships with children who have already made the move to secondary school.

“We have delivered hundreds of Firebreak courses which have helped thousands of people in Essex. We are extremely hopeful that the participants will reap the benefits in their future relationships with one another and in turn continue to make our communities stronger.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ciaran Griffin, Commander of Colchester Garrison, said: “It has been fascinating to visit Firebreak to meet the young people taking part and find out what they have learnt, from practical skills such as first aid to developing personal attributes like teamwork and communication.

“This project is an excellent use of Armed Forces Covenant funding to develop links between young people from Colchester’s military and civilian communities when they are at the crucial – and sometimes difficult – transition between primary and secondary school.”

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