A young woman who was crippled by agoraphobia has today thanked the fire service for giving her the self-confidence to leave the confines of her home.
Charlotte Narey, aged 21, recently took part in a free 12-week personal development programme with The Prince’s Trust course being delivered by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).
She had suffered from agoraphobia and was terrified of the outside world – meaning she rarely stepped out of her Wallsend home.
But Charlotte knew something needed to change and when her grandmother’s friend told her about The Prince’s Trust course entitled Team – she decided to sign up.
She attended the course last September at Gosforth Community Fire Station and has never looked back.
“I have been able to totally re-evaluate how I view the outside world,” said Charlotte.
“The course was such a massive confidence booster for me. It was just what I was looking for as I wanted something to help me engage more in my social life.
“It has been like pressing a restart button on my life.”
Before starting the course Charlotte had been leaving her house about once-a-week to see her mother. She admits sometimes missing a day resulting in her being inside her home for almost a month at a time.
Charlotte’s agoraphobia began a few years before the pandemic around the time she left school. She would spend months on end inside the house until one day she decided to move in with her grandparents, and later get involved with the personal development course.
Team is aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 years old, who might be at a personal crossroads.
For example: being unemployed; struggling with confidence and motivation; needing career guidance; or just wanting a new direction in life.
The three-month course is split into several interesting areas including a teambuilding outward bounds residential course; a community project; a two-week work placement; and a next steps training week.
The programme concludes with a fundraising and final team challenge, which culminates in the young people producing a fun and informative presentation to the rest of the group about what they have experienced.
Throughout the course the young people also learn about first aid, drug and alcohol awareness, and take part in a variety of fire safety training activities – where they train alongside current serving firefighters.
Charlotte concluded: “A few months ago due to my agoraphobia I would never have dreamt of going outside to take part in gorge walking and canoeing with a new circle of friends. It is totally amazing!”
Steven Thomas, Head of Prevention and Education at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“The aim of the course is to try and provide young people like Charlotte with essential life skills that can be used to help them gain future employment, turn a corner in their personal lives, or hopefully lead to education or training opportunities.
“We are proud of our continued partnership with The Prince’s Trust, which is nearing its twentieth year of association. In that time we have helped well over 500 young people to develop their skills, knowledge, behaviours and attributes to support them in their professional and social lives. This is not only wonderful for the individuals involved but is also a rewarding programme reaping benefits for the local community.”
Lucy Gifford, Head of Service Delivery in the North East for The Prince’s Trust, said:
“Our partnership with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has helped transform the lives of hundreds of young people like Charlotte. Team offers vital support to unemployed young people, and crucially three out of four people on Team go on to work or college courses within three months.
“If you know someone who you think could benefit from Team, or other support from The Prince’s Trust to help build their skills and confidence, further information is available at princes-trust.org.uk”.
There is still time for young people in the area to sign up for the current personal development courses being delivered at Gosforth and Farringdon Community Fire Stations. Or they can put their names down for courses being held later on in the year.
For further details please call 07584006913 or send a text using the word FIRE, and each young person who completes the programme will receive a Certificate in Employability, Teamwork and Community Skills.
The course will not affect people’s ability to claim benefits, and all travel costs (by bus or metro) will be covered by the programme team. Under 19s can also apply for a student bursary to enable them to attend the course.