Young firefighters ask Kenilworth Town Council for financial support

Fire protests outside Shire Hall inn 2010 as councillors gathered to vote on proposals to close Warwick fire station.  Warwickshire Young Firefighters Harry Sandell and Alex Kempton, both from Warwick.
Fire protests outside Shire Hall inn 2010 as councillors gathered to vote on proposals to close Warwick fire station. Warwickshire Young Firefighters Harry Sandell and Alex Kempton, both from Warwick.
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Warwickshire’s Young Firefighters’ Association, which faces the axe due to budget cuts at county level, is appealing to Kenilworth Town Council for financial support.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is ending its backing of the association from April, the start of its next fiscal year.

When the cuts were announced last year, there was an outcry from parents whose children were Young Firefighters’ Association (YFA) members. The Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs called on the public to sign a petition urging the county council to reverse its decision.

The fire service will still allow members to make use of its stations and equipment but the YFA says it needs £20,000 to keep going.

Serving firefighter Peter Farrugia, one of the volunteers who helps to run the YFA, said: “It is envisaged that Kenilworth will be the hub and HQ of all Warwickshire’s YFA activities from April onwards but only if we can get funding to keep the project alive.

“This is why we are looking for support from Kenilworth Town Council.”

The YFA is pinning its hopes on securing interim funding that will enable it to relaunch as an organisation offering more structured learning programmes.

Mr Farrugia added: “Traditionally, the YFA was a stepping stone to joining the fire service, rather like the police cadets. But in 2015 the jobs are no longer there.

“So we have to change and start to give young people opportunities to gain qualifications such as BTECs. This will help us to attract funding support from recognised training providers, which will hopefully enable us to continue.

“Without any backing, we could be putting a lot of good kids back on the street.”

Kenilworth Town Council has been an active supporter of the YFA in the past but says it has already committed a large part of its budget to subsidising youth activities in the town. This is largely because of a £30,000 annual grant awarded to the Kenilworth Centre.

A spokesman for Kenilworth Town Council said: “We have yet to receive any formal request from the Warwickshire Young Firefighters’ Association for funding. When we do, we will give it careful consideration. Meanwhile, we have referred them to other funding bodies.”

Cllr Felicity Bunker, Kenilworth’s former mayor, said: “The work the association does with young people is to be encouraged and applauded.

“Speaking personally, I would be happy if we could support them in some way and I know other councillors feel the same.”