The Prince’s Trust - Case Study
The Fire & Rescue Service has worked in partnership and supported The Prince's Trust since its inception in 1976. The service supports The Trust in a wide variety of ways ranging from direct delivery of programmes, the provision of enrichment activities, mentoring and other support to help The Trust work some of the UKs most disadvantaged young people. The President of The Prince's Trust, HRH The Prince of Wales values this support and has spoken specifically about FRS personnel being ‘wonderful role models to young people’.
The object of all Trust programmes is to help young people overcome barriers they face, to move forward with their lives and help them into a positive outcome of further education, training and employment. Young people are also encouraged to continue to volunteer for their own communities.
The Prince’s Trust & its partners like the Fire & Rescue Service create opportunities for young people who are looking to move forward, helping them transform their lives by developing their confidence, motivation and skills to give them an increased stake in our economy and society.
Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service is one of many services in the UK working in partnership with The Prince's Trust. SFRS directly deliver multiple Trust programmes, Fairbridge, Get Started and Team programmes via their Community Interest Company – Safer Communities CiC.
This case study is written by the parents of a young woman who took part in The Prince's Trust Team programme in Stafford delivered by Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Natalie - a Parent’s Perspective
Prior to starting The Prince’s Trust Team Programme our daughter Natalie was feeling lost and isolated. She badly needed a boost to her confidence and guidance to help her find direction in life.
Natalie had suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010, which had left her suffering from depression, psychosis and memory problems. Prior to Natalie engaging with The Prince's Trust and the Fire & Rescue Service, she had attended a “taster session” with the Headway charity.
Two years previously she’d gained a First Class Honours Degree in Cartoon and Comic Arts with Staffordshire University but only with a huge amount of support from her family and the University’s Student Enabling Department.
Unfortunately, she was unable to get funding to attend Headway, but Joanne Barrow, who runs the Stafford branch, suggested she try The Prince’s Trust.
A Staffordshire FRS Prince’s Trust Team Leader had been to visit Headway. He wanted to discuss The Prince’s Trust Team members carrying out their Community Project which is an element of the Team programme. Joanne commented on what a lovely, approachable person he was, and it might be worth Natalie getting in touch to find out more about what they do.
Our daughter is a very talented artist but she found it particularly difficult to find work in her chosen field as she had endured poor mental and physical health for a number of years. Suffice it to say, her confidence and mental health was at rock bottom.
Following a few phone calls, and after attending an induction day with The Prince’s Trust, Natalie started the Team Programme at Stafford Fire Station.
On the first day she was very anxious about attending, but when we went to pick her up at the end of the day, she was eager to tell us what an interesting day it had been. The firefighters had shown the team around the fire station, telling them about their routine and use of equipment. She remarked how friendly everyone was and how supportive and understanding the Team Leaders were.
Over the following weeks, the team of young people really gelled together and supported each other. Through the variety of voluntary projects and activities with the fire service, police and many other organisations, it was noticeable to see Natalie’s confidence was boosted. She said she felt proud to be working alongside the Emergency Services. The team of young people started to socialise outside of the programme, having bowling nights together. Natalie had not socialised for a long time prior to this, so it was good to see her progressing.
Even though these positive changes were occurring, Natalie’s mental health had been on the decline for quite a number of months, in spite of us constantly pushing the Mental Health Services for help, nothing was forthcoming.
The Team Leader had voiced his concerns about Natalie’s mental state. He knew of our ongoing struggle with the Mental Health Services. We felt that they weren’t listening to us or acting on our concerns. The Team Leader wrote a letter to Natalie’s G.P. and the Mental Health Services, outlining his concerns and asked for immediate action.
As parents we honestly feel that this gave the push the medical services needed to get things moving. She is now on the correct “Care Pathway” and getting the appropriate treatment that she’s needed for so long. This gave us all a huge sense of relief that finally she was getting the help that she desperately needed. The Team Leaders were really supportive to Natalie and also extremely encouraging about our role as parents. The support they gave spilled over to us as a family, which meant a lot to us.
As there were no art work placements at the time, and it was noted that Natalie felt calmer around animals, she did a two week work placement with a dog walking and pet care company helping to collect dogs from their homes and supervising them during exercising in an enclosed dog park. Natalie’s work experience on the Team programme gave her a feeling of self-worth and positivity. We were told by the Team Leaders how well she’d fitted in and how she acted on her own initiative.
Although we’re not out of the woods regarding stabilising Natalie’s mental health at the moment, she has plans to do voluntary work until she feels stronger. We’re still working on sorting her medications out which can be a lengthy process, but at least now we feel like things are moving in the right direction.
At the end of the Team programme the young people gave a speech to an invited audience that included the Staffordshire Commissioner for Police & Fire, the Chief Fire Officer and many others. It proved to us how far Natalie had come in the last three months that she was able to stand up and make such a powerful speech in front of all of those people.
We both felt immensely proud and very emotional, to the point of choking back the tears.
Although we’re not out of the woods regarding stabilising her mental health at the moment, Natalie has plans to do voluntary work until she feels stronger.
We would like to thank The Prince’s Trust and Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service for all of the help and support given to Natalie to move forward with her life. It has made a tremendous difference not only to her, but our family too, as we can all finally see some light at the end of what was a very long, dark tunnel.
The Fire & Rescue Service staff who carry out this work on behalf of The Prince's Trust are very special people who go above and beyond the call of duty. We will be eternally grateful.
Linda and Kevin