A GROUP of teenagers have learnt new life skills - and tackled their fear of heights - thanks to a fire service programme aimed at young people.

Eleven girls took part in Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service's SPARC (Safer People and Responsible Communities) programme at Weymouth Fire Station.

The five-day course is a bespoke development programme designed to promote empowerment in a positive environment, while encouraging team work and the support of others.

It culminated in a 'pass out' display at the end of the week where the girls, who are all aged between 12 and 16, demonstrated their newly gained skills through practical scenarios.

They receive certificates of achievement from Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, Angus Campbell.

Rob Guy, youth intervention manager at Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The course was a huge success, with all 11 young people completing the five days and gaining an AQA Award in Fire Service Youth Training.

"Prior to starting, the young people had the opportunity to tell us their hopes and fears for the week, and most said ‘anything to do with heights’.

"Despite their reservations, they all climbed the 13.5 metre ladder and went up in the cage of the aerial ladder platform, which extends to 32 metres."

He added: "This was an example of excellent partnership working.

"The need for positive activities for this cohort had been identified at the Weymouth and Portland Health and Wellbeing Forum, and we thank Weymouth Town Council for providing some funding to enable this course to happen.

"We are indebted to Dorset Council’s Chesil Family Partnership Zone, who recruited eligible young people for the course and also provided a youth worker throughout the week to help support the girls.

"We also received support from Dorset Mind, in the form of one of their volunteers who attended all five days to help us embed emotional wellbeing sessions throughout the week - we can’t thank them enough for their commitment and expertise."

For more information on the youth programmes run by the fire service, contact Mr Guy on 07739 899293 or rob.guy@dwfire.org.uk