Views from our partners on how 999 Academy is making a real difference to young people in the South West.

“I believe the 999 Academy has been one of the most significant initiatives aimed specifically at young people in the South West for many years. Speaking to many of the students at the recent Bridgwater Graduation ceremony their confidence and enthusiasm for the future was palpable. The life skills learned during the safe and supportive environment this program offers would be hard to find anywhere. We are very fortunate that this program exists in the South West and is expanding here rapidly, but it’s something that should be available to all young people interested in a career in the emergency services or any of its related professions and I would urge other counties to take up the initiative.”

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

“I have been an avid supporter of the Bridgwater and Taunton College 999 Academy since its inception.  The programme of activity, which brings together Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, the South Western Ambulance Service and Avon and Somerset Police, to give our young people a practical insight into our emergency services is inspiring.  I was recently delighted to have been invited to the graduation ceremony of the first 18 students to complete the scheme.  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, celebrating their amazing achievements and hearing about the activities and experiences they encountered throughout their 18 month training programme.  The initiative offers a great opportunity for the young people and the skills they learn, I hope they can take with them into the work place and in life. Finally, the 999 Academy wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the dedicated individuals who run it, so a big thank you goes out to them.  Well done to everyone involved.”

Sue Mountstevens, Policing & Crime Commissioner, Avon & Somerset Police

“I am proud to say that I have been involved with the 999 Academy since its conceptual beginning in North Devon. The original idea was for a collaborative approach to supporting young people in developing their skills and attributes to become inclusive and supportive members of society and their communities. The 999 Academy has achieved this and more with a great number of the participants using their experience to further their academic and vocational careers. Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has always recognised the value in exploring new ways of delivering community activity and the 999 Academy provides this in a way that no singular organisation can, utilising the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of staff from collective Services means that workloads are manageable and participants benefit from a varied input. If you have the opportunity to become involved in a 999 Academy I strongly urge you to do so – the benefits are unique.”

Peter Bond, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service

“It is really critical that young people play an active part in their local communities. One of the most important things they can do is to be trained and ready to respond to an emergency situation that may occur. This could be a medical incident or an accident or a crime taking place. The 999 academy engages young people, provides specialist training in a range of areas and creates a cadre of young people who are able to provide support to their communities, assisting the emergency services and is a stepping stone for some young people into jobs within the police, fire and ambulance services.”

Paul Netherton, Deputy Chief Constable, Devon & Cornwall Police

“It is with some pride that I can say it was here in North Devon that the first 999 Academy was developed and my thanks to all of the hard work from the emergency services leads and Petroc College in making this such a success.

The 999 Academy offers so many benefits. For the young people involved it allows them to develop their confidence, self-esteem and empowerment, whilst at the same time encouraging the spirit of adventure and good citizenship. The 999 Academy are visible at so many of our local events and have supported local teams in our work to make the area a safe place to live, work and visit.

A number of my police staff have been involved in supporting and developing the students within the 999 Academy over the past few years and have found the experience to be really rewarding.

The 999 Academy offers a safe place for young people to interact with like-minded individuals. It should not be seen as a recruiting ground for a job in the emergency services (albeit a number have gone on to do so!), it is much more about enabling the students to raise their aspirations for whatever they want to go on and do in life, and making them more rounded and active participants within their communities.

I highly recommend the 999 Academy to anyone considering starting up such an academy and would encourage youngsters from all backgrounds to join. You will enjoy it!”

Toby Davies, Local Policing Area Commander for the communities of North and West Devon

“The 999 academy provides young people in North Devon with real, credible experience in the emergency services allowing them to gain confidence and expertise in a professional, supportive and structured programme. We are hugely proud to be a part of the 999 academy.”

Jon Harding, Assistant Principal, Petroc College, Barnstaple, North Devon

“I have supported the Bridgwater 999 Academy for the last three years and am passionate about the skills and achievements the students have acquired. Three of them have graduated this year with firm job opportunities with the police and fire services which is phenomenal and shows the value and worth of this amazing programme. None of this could have happened without the backing and support of the emergency services, who volunteer their time every week to deliver on the programme and is what makes the 999 Academy unique.”

Ruth Burrows, Public Services Lecturer, Bridgwater & Taunton College