The Phoenix Programme

Phoenix Project Logo

The Sunderland Phoenix Programme was established in 2000 and delivered in collaboration and partnership between TWFRS and Sunderland Youth Offending Service (YOS).  

The initiative was set up in response to the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act which stated that reducing crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour was not just a police problem and local authority organisations should do more to address these issues.

In 2003 the CDA was amended to place a specific responsibility on Fire and Rescue Services so with the Sunderland Phoenix Programme already in place TWFRS were ahead of the game.

The Programme is now funded by Together for Children (Early Help) in Sunderland and has developed significantly over the last 17 years. It is now a programme of three courses aimed at young people aged from 11 to 16 years that are referred through the Early Help Allocations team and their family support services (such as YOS, schools, PRUs and Wear Kids).


The main aim of the programme is to change attitude and behaviour, instill confidence and self-esteem, discipline and self-discipline, team working and social skills.

It aims to create empathy for the Fire & Rescue Service and teaches young people to understand the dangers of fire, fire-setting and hoax calls.

We use the neutral status of the Fire Service and the Firefighter role model to achieve these aims.


Phoenix Aspire

The first course in the programme is the Phoenix Aspire course, a 4 day course in which students don fire kit and engage in practical training and teamwork focused education, based on the role of a firefighter.

The course culminates in an end of course presentation and drill where students perform in front of their families and receive certificates from the Mayor of Sunderland and Senior Fire Officers.

Phoenix Respect

The second course in the programme is the Phoenix Respect course and to meet the criteria to attend, students must stay out of trouble with the police, parents and school, but also demonstrate improved behaviour with peers, at home and in school.

This is a 2 day practical course, which follows on from Phoenix Aspire.

Phoenix Pride

The third course in the programme is the Phoenix Pride course, a 3 day course where students attend an overnight stay at an outdoor activity centre. Students must meet the criteria as with the Respect course in order to attend.

This course ultimately celebrates the achievements of the young people by further engaging them in practical, fun, teamwork activities, but also includes relevant educational topics on health, safety, wellbeing and ASB reduction.


The Phoenix Programme has been evaluated many times over its life span to measure its success for the young people who engage, but a recent independent study, published in December 2011 has demonstrated that 92% of young people who complete the full Phoenix programme do not offend or 'get into serious trouble' in the following 12 months. 

In 2010 the Programme won three National Training Awards including overall winner of the year 2010 in the Partnership and Collaboration category, judges stating that the Phoenix Programme was "a truly life changing initiative".

Further information

For further information, please contact Lee Logan on 0191 444 1286 or email lee.logan@twfire.gov.uk