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London Fire Brigade runs course for youngsters with autism

The London Fire Brigade has run a course for young people with autism. Pictured: course providers and participants.
The London Fire Brigade has run a LIFE course for young people with autism
Course part of "Local Intervention Fire Education" programme 

A successful London Fire Brigade scheme designed to improve the self-esteem of young people and promote fire safety has run a course for young people with autism.

The specially adapted Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) course ran between 21-25 September at Dagenham Fire Station.

Originally set up to improve community relations and reduce attacks on firefighters by targeting those who have offended, are at risk of offending or may have been victims of crime, the LIFE programme now works with young people from a wide range of backgrounds.

It is designed to improve motivation, discipline, self-confidence and team building skills, as well as get across fire safety and fire prevention messages. Young people on the course carry out a number of fire brigade related activities, including the use of ladders, breathing apparatus, casualty rescue techniques, hose line practice and problem solving tasks.

The course was held in conjunction with Parents of Autistic Children Together (PACT). The local Dagenham charity offers a range services specifically designed to support families and empower young people. The Brigade has worked closely with PACT to specially adapt the course for eight young people with autism. The course has the same aims as the mainstream LIFE programme but includes several key changes, including fewer participants; a ‘buddy system' so each young person has their own trainer and extra training and familiarisation for Brigade staff on the specific needs of the young people.

The London Fire Brigade's schools team where also on hand to give important information to the youngsters about fire safety.

London Fire Brigade's Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety Andy Barrett said: "The LIFE programme has repeatedly shown that it has a positive effect on those taking part and also the wider community. It gives young people an increased awareness of what the fire service does, a real sense of achievement and helps to develop their self esteem. We make our community safety initiatives as inclusive as possible, to get messages across to all Londoners that they can become fire safety champions."

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