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19-year-old Olivia Lucas joined Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service in February 2019, as the Staffordshire Youth Commission’s Project Coordinator. Olivia had previously assisted with communications and coordinated the project with another social enterprise and she was ecstatic to be able to continue her role with Safer Communities CIC, while learning new skills and refining the Youth Commission for its third year.

Olivia also studies full-time at Staffordshire University and is in her second year of the undergraduate BA (hons) Journalism course offered at the Stoke-on-Trent campus. She loves to read, write and follow up on stories, and enjoys producing articles for print and radio and TV packages for broadcast on StaffsLive.

In her spare time, Olivia enjoys driving her two classic Vauxhall cars. She also likes to shop, practise her make-up and travel to hot places. Most of all, Olivia loves to spend time with her huge family, especially her Dad and her beautiful nieces. Olivia is passionate about making her home county of Staffordshire a better place, by helping one young person at a time.
I have worked with Safer Communities CIC which is a community interest company within the Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service for a little over a year now; initially as Prince’s Trust Team Leader based at Stafford.

For me this has been a fantastic year using both my teaching and social work experience to work with young people aged 16 to 25 years of age who have for some reason or another found it hard to work with and relate to the job/training/college life.

Over the last year I have been able to work with three cohorts of young people and feel that this has enabled me and my assistant the opportunity to help thirty two young people to develop themselves both personally and academically. Many of the young people have gone on to either full time work, Training or to volunteer within their community. These were young people that only twelve weeks earlier were languishing at home unable to reengage with life.

I have now taken on a new Temporary post within the CIC as Prince’s Trust Network Coordinator. This is a hugely exciting opportunity for me enabling me to now manage three Prince’s Trust Team programmes and a number of Faribridge and Get Into programs.

I am looking forward to working with our dedicated Prince’s Trust Leader’s Team and helping many more young people to change their lives. I feel privileged to have been offered this opportunity and hope that with the hard work and dedication of the team we can see the Prince’s Trust arm of the CIC grow and influence even more life in the communities that we serve.
Andy Boyle - Prince's Trust Network Coordinator

Hi my name is Beth. I’m 19 years old.

Before the programme I was unemployed looking for a career in childcare. I am hoping to achieve an active role in childcare and improve my self confidence and speaking and presenting myself in front of people.

Since starting on the BBO Evolve Princes Trust Team programme with encouragement and support from the staff at Tamworth Beth emailed Scalleywaggs Nursery to see if they had any work experience opportunities, to Beth’s delight she was told she could apply for an apprenticeship. After Beth filled out the application form, Scalleywaggs then offered her an interview in which she passed with flying colours.

Beth has since begun her apprenticeship at level 3, the staff regularly call Beth for updates and are delighted that she is absolutely loving her job.
Sharron Finch & Alec Voss
The Prince’s Trust Team programme often has a number of young people who have had / or are suffering from long-term mental health needs and physical health needs.

As a Team, we decided to introduce several different mindfulness and emotional wellbeing tools to help educate the students around their own sense of self and how to be present in the moment. These tools equip the students with the knowledge on how to empower themselves and deal with day to day living which can be incredibly difficult for them.

One of the first schemes we introduced was offering yoga during Team. For this, we partnered with Sky Blue Yoga, based in Stafford, who visit weekly and offer a range of restorative and challenging yoga. These sessions are based on the needs of the group, and also their dynamic with each other. Yoga can often be misconceived as easy or pointless, but has proven benefits on physical and mental health. Our students now look forward to their yoga sessions and can see the benefits in themselves.

We have also been improving the Team’s link with their local police force. This helps introduce the students to their local community where previously students have been isolated and withdrawn. The police sessions offer the students a unique insight to the role of the police within Staffordshire.

One of the exciting schemes we’ve introduced is the Bike to Team scheme. For this, we have teamed up with CycleR in Cannock. We identify students who live local to the Team location, and they are offered the opportunity to have a pushbike to travel into Team rather than either walking or using public transport. Cycling has huge benefits to physical and mental health and increases energy. Students are able to keep the pushbike on completion of the course which then gives them more flexibility when applying for jobs as they can travel further.

We have also started to offer out Amazon Fire Tablets to those who complete the Team programme. The benefit of this tablet is that students can access the internet through these devices, which makes it easier to apply for jobs which can reduce anxiety. The Amazon Fire Tablets can also access social media which allows the students to keep in contact with their peers, therefore reducing social isolation.

Linking in with the Bike to Team scheme is the partnership with Slimming World. Slimming World delivers a session which proves you can eat healthily on a budget. On their visit to the Team, they bring with them several different food options for the students to try and we can offer to pay for Team members who feel that they would benefit from Slimming World.

During Team, we also try and get the Team members out and about in their local community – rather than being in an environment similar to a classroom too often. These walks are often exploring the local heritage of Staffordshire – or exploring the natural beauty of Cannock Chase. These walks and visits give the students a much needed opportunity to reflect and relax during Team. We often find that the students spend time with different team members, therefore the group dynamic is wider and the students feel more confident in socialising with other people.

The last thing that we have introduced is exploring Empowerment and Identity boards. This allows the students to identify where they are right now, where they want to be, and giving students an identity which many of our students lack when they join us.

As a team of professionals we constantly strive to improve student’s outcomes academically and pastorally. 85% of our students have a positive outcome at the end of Team with all reporting improved self esteem and feel better prepared to re-enter the world of work or training.
Andrew Boyle, Team Leader Stafford
Our Prince’s Trust Team programmes have opportunities for an “employed team member” on each of our Teams. For Stafford Team 13, we were fortunate enough to partner up with Central England Co-operative. As part of this partnership, one of our participants is from a local Central England Co-operative store and he attends Team for 20 days, spread out evenly across the twelve weeks. The employed team member acts almost as a bridge between the staff, the students and their local business. They can offer the students perspective from someone who works and who has perhaps been in a similar situation to the students themselves.

The partnership with Central England Co-op has also come with opportunities for the whole Team such as workshops, store visits and employability sessions. One of the first events that they arranged for us was a “World of Work” event at their Business Support Centre in Lichfield. This visit included a quiz which was aimed at reducing common misconceptions about working in retail. It also featured a tour around the offices, to show them the different departments such as the, Marketing Team, HR, IT and |Finance. The day concluded with a session around employability and what employers say they look for in potential employees. The day was interactive and encouraged the students to look beyond working on a shop floor in retail.

After the World of Work Event, we were offered a chance to visit their Eccleshall store to see how the different job roles work together to reach a common goal. They had a fun interactive quiz about the realities of working in retail, which again surprised the students and reduced many common misconceptions. They also met the Area Manager who explained what they look for in potential employees. Students were encouraged to ask questions, and find out more about the opportunities for progression in retail.

Another session run by Central England Co-operative was around Project Management. Project Management can be quite daunting however the session was broken down into manageable chunks and linked to a theory that we already utilise on the Prince’s Trust Team Programme; plan, do, review. The session was linked to planning a ‘festival’ and gave the students the flexibility to be creative with it. This project management workshop was timed to fit into the programme to link to the Community Project. The community project can now be planned in a way that all of the student’s understand.

One of the main benefits of this partnership is the real work experience that our students have been offered. A big part of the Prince’s Trust Team programme is that students go on a two week work experience, in a career/field that they are interested in. Many of these work placements are the first real experience of the working world for these young people, so they are crucial. On Stafford Team 13, three of our students have chosen to go on work experience in their stores to see if retail could be a career they’d like to go into.

In week nine of the twelve week programme, the students work on their employability and start to think about the next steps after Team. During this week, the students work on their CVs, Cover Letters, written skills for job applications and interview skills. Interview skills can be incredibly daunting for most of our students, and they struggle to know how to answer questions effectively. Central England Co-operative are also running an interview skills sessions, and offering a mock interview based on a range of jobs they recruit for. The students will be able to choose a job description which interests them the most. By having actual jobs for the mock interview, it makes it more realistic so will benefit the students more.

Here’s what Central England Co-operative think of our partnership:
“As part of our on-going commitment to work with young people in our local communities, Central England Co-operative are delighted to be working with the Prince’s Trust on supporting one of their Team Programmes. We hope that our involvement in the Programme, through the Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service, will help transform the lives of young people in the Stafford area. Specifically, we have designed a suite of workshops and activities to enrich the brilliant 12 week plan the Stafford Fire Station deliver – these include a project management workshop, a world of work day, mock interviews, store visits, 2 week work experience placements, and support in fundraising for their community projects. One of the Central England Co-operative’s Team Leaders, Tom Parker, has joined the Programme as an Employed Participant. Tom’s role is to help lead the group in many of the structured activities. He told us why he wanted to be involved, “As well as this being a great opportunity for my own development, I’m delighted to be part of this initiative, helping other people achieve new skills and confidence to better their lives – it truly is a rewarding and inspiring thing to be involved in””.

Working with Central England Co-operative has been a fantastic opportunity for the whole Team. This partnership has bought the students new skills and taught them how to work with other providers and the chance to see how you can progress within a company. For Central England Co-operative, it has given them the chance to support things that really matter to them, namely supporting young people in local communities.
Sian Osborn
Stafford Team 12 has two early success stories before the end of their Team.

Matt Preston, from Great Haywood successfully completed Fairbridge before progressing onto the Stafford Team programme. Whilst at Fairbridge, Matt passed his driving test which enabled him to apply for jobs further afield.
During Team, Matt continued to apply for jobs and was offered a position with McDonalds. Matt was able to stay until Week Six of the Team programme, and made a fantastic contribution to the first half of the Team. He made excellent friends and was a valued member of the Team.

Josh Mantle, from Stafford joined the Stafford Team programme with the goal of finding a job, as he was able to work. He just needed a little bit of help on his CV and Cover Letter which we were able to provide in the one to one sessions.

He was offered a position of a Builder with a local Stafford based company.

We are absolutely thrilled for Matt and Josh and wish them all the luck for their futures! #youthcandoit your update here
Sian Osbourne, Team Assistant
As the Prince’s Trust Team Leader, I feel that we must work holistically with the young people that we come into contact with. Team is not only about growing as an individual and learning to take responsibility, it’s about looking at all of the areas that you’re not happy with and making changes. This needs to be done over time and many of the young people that we work find this difficult and overwhelming.

The Team programme helps them to look at education, physical and mental health and lifestyle choices. We work with the students in one to ones in order to set goals that are realistic and timely, often utilising local agencies that can offer targeted support. This process makes it less overwhelming and more manageable for the young person.

Many of the young people that we work with have poor self-image which affects their confidence and ability to make and keep close friends.

I approached Slimming World and enquired to see if they could deliver a session for our young people around healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle changes. Jackie, a local Slimming World consultant, was more than happy to talk to our young people, and she even provided several different home cooked meals for the students to try. She took the time to explain how eating healthy can be done on a budget, which is often a concern of the young people.

Two of our students have taken her advice and decided to make a change. One young person decided that they’d prefer to exercise and so far has lost 8lbs using a push bike to travel on rather the bus. The other young person joined Slimming World and has now lost 12lb in two weeks and is feeling fantastic.

As a Team Leader, it is incredible to see the change in the young people as they start to make positive changes in their lives.
Author: Andrew Boyle
Another fantastic scheme introduced with the Prince’s Trust Team Programme members, in conjunction with Staffordshire Police and Cycle-R.

Cycle-R is a registered charity based in the centre of Cannock, Staffordshire. The purpose of Cycle-R is fourfold:
Through recycling donated bikes, they provide training, qualifications and work experience to long-term unemployed and youth groups of various types with the aim of actually getting them back to work.
They provide low-cost, high quality refurbished bikes to low-income families and persons who may need them.
They encourage cycling as a sport around Cannock, including the provision and maintenance of facilities for bicycling in and around Cannock. They support the ecology of Cannock Chase by providing recycling facilities for items that would otherwise be scrapped. They sell these bikes and spares, as well as running a maintenance service, from our shop in High Green Court.

Staffordshire Police will, in the future donate cycles to young people on the Stafford Prince’s Trust Team Programme and help to provide maintenance training for the young people and road safety training.

Five of the young people chose to have a cycle rather than bus fare to enable them to get to the Prince’s Trust Team programme. At the end of the programme the young people can keep their bike which will allow them to travel further afield in their search for work.

This scheme has so many positive outcomes for the young people concerned. It helps them with low cost travel for the future. It is a fantastic way to get fit and stay fit. It encourages endorphins to be produced which help with feeling positive and happy and combat depression and negative thinking.

This is a forward thinking inclusive programme involving Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, The Prince’s Trust, Staffordshire Police Force and local charitable organisations.
Author: Andrew Boyle
The Signposts Centre provides a place of warmth, friendliness and support. The Signpost Centre is placed in the middle of Highfields opposite the local shops and they offer very reasonably priced refreshments. They can help with benefit problems and support, free computers with WiFi, elderly exercises, knit and natter, sewing group, Tots Rhyming time, breakfast club, computer help and a place to meet and make friends with Community Workers that will either help you with a problem or find the right person to help.

The Signposts Centre provide work placements in a range of fields such as doing administration work, reception work, arts and crafts and helping in the community café. They are extremely supportive of our young people who can often be nervous and unsure of themselves when they first start.

Jane Richards, Volunteer Coordinator, explained that “being a non-profitable charity, we could not survive without willing volunteers who we like to encourage to offer a warm and welcoming service to the community. Our volunteers in return have often expressed many of the ways that it helps them, such as work experience, paying back for the support they received from us, gaining confidence and raising self-esteem, giving them a sense of purpose and reason to keep going and wanting to help their community.”

Ben Nicklin, from Stafford Team 11, said that “helping at Signposts gave me a range of experience that I did not have from previous jobs. I learnt how to work on the reception desk including greeting visitors, answering the telephone and dealing with any queries. It gave me confidence and my people skills improved. It made me realise that everyone is different but you are never alone in the hard times you go through. I now work full-time in a medical call centre and I love it.”

As can be demonstrated from the two work placement providers mentioned the outcomes for our young people can be life changing. This ensures that we as practitioners keep finding work placements which suit the needs wishes and dreams of the young people we work with.
Andrew Boyle - Team Leader Stafford
The Roofing Yard is a local business which sells a wide range of roofing supplies to both trade and public. It is based at 1B Romford Road, Stafford, ST16 3DZ.

Mr John Jenkinson, Managing Director of the Roofing Yard, couldn’t have been more helpful. He was more than happy to provide a placement for Liam Bell; 22 years old from Stafford Team 11. Liam was your typical Team member; quiet, introverted and reserved. On my first placement visit, I could see that Liam was happy and interested in the work and wanted to do a great job. By the end of the two week placement, I was approached by Mr Jenkinson who asked if he could offer Liam a permanent position working for him at The Roofing Yard. This would be Liam’s first job and he was over the moon and accepted it. I was more than happy with the outcome. Mr Jenkinson said “It’s been a privilege to work with the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Prince’s Trust Team. I feel that it is important to give something back to the community and working with young people like this is a win-win. I will be taking more placements and can’t recommend it enough. I have offered anther placement to a young man from Stafford Team 12 and I’m sure that he will be a benefit to my business while he is here.”

Liam said “The team at The Roofing Yard had been welcoming and slowly taught me how to operate the relevant machinery and processes of the job. I would have never have been offered this position without the help of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, The Prince’s Trust Team programme and The Roofing Yard for having patience with me”

Andrew Boyle, Team Leader Stafford