St John Ambulance expands youth projects in hard-to-reach areas, thanks to funding

First aid volunteers

St John Ambulance has been able to expand its work with young people, particularly those in hard to reach groups, due to Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) funding.

More lives saved

The funding means that the organisation will be able to help more young people learn first aid so they can save lives. Initial expansion will commence in Birmingham, with further projects planned for the North West, North East and London.

Responding to community needs

One of the projects the organisation is investing in is RISE ; a project designed and led by young people, for young people.

RISE stands for ‘Respect, Inspire, Support, Empower’ and is set up to benefit 16-25 year olds who are not currently in education, employment or training (NEETS). The project responds to specific community needs and helps the personal development of young people in hard-to-reach areas, by teaching new skills and improving self esteem.

Searching for leaders

St John Ambulance is currently recruiting for a youth worker to lead the Midlands and North West arms of the project to determine which young people to outreach to and where best to locate the group. Four new units per region will then be created based on this research. The organisation is also looking for adult volunteers who can help out as youth leaders – no previous experience is needed.

Teaching vital life-saving skills

The RISE project will help St John Ambulance to teach young people how to cope in emergency situations and will provide first aid training for life-threatening conditions such as stab wounds, so young people can be the difference between life and death.

Peer-to-peer training will also be given, as well as leadership training so participants can then go on to become youth leaders or first aid trainers themselves. Others can choose to leave the programme but retaining qualifications that will stand them in good stead in their careers.

Turning lives around

The RISE project was piloted to great success in East London where it continues. One young person, Jack, aged 18, from Newham joined the pilot after becoming involved in gang activity. He felt he needed a new direction in life, which is what St John Ambulance offered him through activities such as first aid training and pointing him in the right direction to develop a business idea. Jack moved on from the RISE project and into full-time employment.

Wendy Human, Head of Youth, said: ‘We’re very grateful to the DCLG funding for allowing us to reach more young people and teach them life-saving skills.

‘We hope to be recruiting young people to the scheme by the end of 2012 but in the meantime we’re looking for adult volunteers who are interested in being youth leaders. Training and support will be provided.’

The organisation successfully won DCLG funding through the Youth United scheme of uniformed youth organisations, which also includes the Scouts and Guides.

For more information on RISE, visit www.sja.org.uk/sja/young-people/rise.aspx and to volunteer with the scheme email Ruth Jalloh.

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