Young offenders cook for firefighters

Young offenders have benefited from a youth justice programme which has seen them cook a meal for a team of Nottinghamshire firefighters.

Four teenagers spent a morning with firefighters from Ashfield Fire Station learning about the day to day work of the emergency crew before cooking a meal for them.

The visit was part of a programme organised by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Targeted Support and Youth Justice Service, which has been working with caterer Jas Rayatt to offer cookery sessions for young people either as part of their bail supervision, youth rehabilitation order or the supervision element of their detention and training order.

In this latest session the young people prepare a meal of chicken curry and Bombay potatoes for more than a dozen people at the fire station and in turn, got to look round the facility, check out the emergency equipment and learn life-saving techniques.

Richard Cooper, watch manager at Ashfield Fire Station, said the session helped break down preconceptions on both sides.

“I was dubious before the meal but it was excellent, and they did a great job,” he said.

“Likewise, we were able to explain our role, the consequences on people and families in life-threatening situations and emergencies - perhaps giving them an opportunity they have not had before to talk to firefighters.”

Jas runs the company Red Hot Cuisine, and used to sell food kits to High Street supermarkets and now sells foods such as curry kits online and abroad.

He said: “The idea of authority figures for many young offenders can generate negative perceptions. This event enabled us to challenge and change those perceptions. The food was well received which will have given the group a lot of confidence for future cooking opportunities.”

Coun Liz Plant, vice-chairman of the county council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said: “The young people not only got a chance to test their new culinary talents but also learnt some other skills during the session with the fire service, including CPR. It was great the fire service could support this youth justice initiative.”