Emergency services are seeking volunteers to help educate the city’s young people about knife crime, water safety, lifesaving skills and more.
The Blue Light Champions pilot in Leeds will see a team of up to 30 volunteers recruited to work alongside police officers, firefighters and paramedics in five schools.
By harnessing the skills of people who want to make a difference in their communities, the services hope to improve engagement with young people in the city.
PC Ash Razzaq, a strategic engagement officer with West Yorkshire Police, said: “What we’ve realised just from having volunteers involved in policing is that people have got skills that are beneficial to us on a day-to-day basis. We have some great volunteers who are able to build great relationships with young people.”
It also fits in with wider moves towards collaboration between the emergency services as they face continued pressure to find efficiencies.
With each service already running its own education programmes, the pilot seemed a natural place to begin.
PC Razzaq said: “From a police perspective, we’re looking at things like weapons awareness and preventing child sexual exploitation. The fire service might talk about things like arson and water safety, while the ambulance service might look at Restart a Heart and the kind of questions they could ask when you call 999.”
Recruits must be aged 18 or over and available four hours per week during term times, and will ideally have some experience with young children.
Leeds University, which will evaluate the pilot, and Leeds Beckett University are promoting the scheme among students planning careers in education and social care.
The year-long trial is also being supported by the council’s Positive Futures programme, which is funded by West Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner.
The schools set to participate in the pilot are Roundhay High, Co-op Academy Leeds and Harehills, Hovingham and Roundhay primaries.