Growing volunteer numbers and developing community resilience
Last year, UFBA began work to establish a youth scheme by surveying members – we had a great response from 290 individual brigades and your feedback was extremely enlightening.
Analysis of the survey showed a demand for a scheme from brigades throughout the country. A think tank of representatives from brigades which are actively engaging with young New Zealanders met to share the outcomes of their initiatives with us. This work has provided us with a starting point for our Pathways to Fire and Emergency Project which kicked off this month with the appointment of project manager, Angela Christie.
Angela will be working with us to explore and develop youth engagement initiatives. Her brief includes finding out what’s worked and what hasn’t by talking with those who are offering schemes around the country and exploring similar initiatives run here and in other countries. Consideration will be given to what approaches will encourage Gen Z audiences to eventually volunteer with brigades. This is a generation of digital natives who are independent, compassionate and purpose-led. Finally, we’ll put together an approach which builds on best practice, is appealing to young New Zealanders and importantly is easily implemented by brigades.
So far, we’ve formed our first working group to develop a Gateway programme, which enables students to gain an understanding of the role of volunteer firefighters and potential careers in the fire and emergency service all while achieving unit standards. The working group includes firefighters who have run this type of programme and secondary teachers who will ensure we develop a programme that’s educationally sound with real benefit for students. This is the first in a suite of resources we plan to develop to meet the differing needs of our brigades. Brigades will have a choice of resources to suit their personnel and community.
By developing youth engagement initiatives, UFBA aims to support brigades to:
- foster the volunteer ethic;
- sustain volunteer brigade membership; and
- enhance community resilience, addressing social needs.
Alongside this, a reference group of over 100 individuals is helping to provide feedback as we develop the initiatives. Overseeing the project is a governance group of representatives from the UBFA. FENZ, brigades and the education sector who will meet in April. This group will agree the direction of our work and provide advice and guidance to working groups and the project manager.
Angela has already been in touch with those who indicated their interest in this work via the survey. If you haven’t heard from her and are keen to be involved, please email her. Regular updates on the Pathways to Fire and Emergency Project will be made through our communications.
This is an exciting project which we hope will support succession, community engagement and help towards maintaining resilient communities.
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