Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chairman’s Internship Scheme was the winner of the Positive Action Award at the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA) Awards, which took place on 23 November 2022.
The Positive Action Award was presented to the individual or team who has/have undertaken significant positive action to recruit people from under-represented groups into the fire and rescue service and/or develop leaders from under-represented groups to enable them to be effective in senior roles.
As RBFRS continues to work towards an inclusive culture of equality and diversity, the Chairman’s Internship Scheme encourages young people who may not have considered a career in the fire and rescue sector to explore some of the many roles available to them.
The Scheme is an innovative approach to equality, diversity and inclusion that targets young people from ethnic groups across Berkshire currently under-represented within the Service. It is a paid internship running over five weeks, giving interns a fantastic opportunity to begin to develop their workplace skills and discover the opportunities available in a modern fire and rescue service.
A part of RBFRS’ wider commitment to playing an active role in addressing inequalities, the Scheme was developed using direct feedback from the young people themselves through engagement sessions at local schools and community groups in Berkshire. At these sessions, young people shared their views on the Service and the Scheme itself, giving the Project Team a greater understanding of the challenges and motivations that prospective interns may face.
Using this feedback, the Project Team worked to create a tailored scheme that addresses the specific challenges they raised. As their feedback showed that the majority of them had never considered a role in the fire service, the Chairman’s Internship Scheme was designed to provide an insight into the diverse roles available in the fire service at a time when these young people may be thinking about their futures.
In the Scheme’s first year this summer, 10 young people joined RBFRS. Interns had the opportunity to gain valuable real-world work experience and transferable skills that they can take with them into their future careers or academic pursuits. During the programme, interns spent time with a host department (including but not limited to the Built Environment Programme, HR, Finance, and Prevention, Protection and Response), took part in learning and development workshops to enhance their skills, and visited fire stations across the County.
The Project Team worked to design and shape the internship from scratch, organising planned activities, hosting engagement days, advertising and carrying out numerous interviews and assessment centres. Members of the Project Team all brought their own knowledge and expertise to contribute to the Scheme, making it what it is today.
Chloe Duncan, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator, and Project Lead for the Internship, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication that the Project Team showed in taking the internship from an idea to the exciting programme of activities completed this summer. We were delighted to see the level of interest in the scheme from young people across the County, and even more pleased that the successful applicants reflected so positively on their time with us. As a Service, we learnt a great deal from our first cohort of interns as part of the Chairman’s Internship Scheme, and we look forward to continuing to deliver this kind of work in support of our drive towards becoming a more inclusive organisation.”
For more information on the Chairman’s Internship Scheme, please visit our website.