Volunteer rural firefighter and regional manager for the Ministry of Youth Development Blair Gilbert plays a hands-on role with YES programme that was created with the rural fire and other emergency services in Rotorua and the Ministry of Youth Development. "The YES programme has gone so successfully in Rotorua we are now running into our third year and we are expanding to different client groups and different areas," Blair says. "Also, through the Minister of Youth, we are rolling it out to more communities. We have been in six communities but we are now able to roll it out to 20 communities across the country, so it's just growing and expanding and is hugely supported by the volunteers. It's just fantastic."
Work and Income community liaison adviser Julie Hill says this programme is different from the previous two run in Rotorua in that it is now Work and Income funded. "It's for young job seekers aged between 18 to 22, and because it's a voluntary programme there's no obligation to attend but these 16 people have chosen to be here, all ready bright and early outside Work and Income at 8am ready to come down here." Julie says the group had an induction course for the fire services on Thursday night before heading to the training day at the Rotorua National Training Centre on Saturday. "They've come along and put some of that theory into practice and also learned new skills." Each young person will have the option of volunteering in an emergency service following their completion of the orientation programme.
Last weekend the group did a training day with St John and the rescue helicopter and will be exploring other emergency services in the weeks to come. "These training's will culminate in a weekend camp where all the services will come together and the volunteers will be put through a series of different emergency situations, Julie says.
Twenty-year-old job seeker Justin Barnett says he is interested in a career as a firefighter so this was an opportunity he couldn't refuse. "I was looking for work and couldn't miss this opportunity. I want to be a firefighter and I've already signed up to volunteer with operation support so this is going great."
For more information on the YES programme visit www.myd.govt.nz/young-people/youth-in-emergency-services
Rotorua Weekender - Erin Majurey - 20th March 2015