Teacher swaps classroom for fire station in career switch

A former teacher ditched the school books to take a leap into a new career as she joins the fire and rescue service in a bid to save lives.
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Collette Cutler was a primary school supply teacher by trade before deciding she wanted to make a more permanent impact on young people’s lives.

So when the 28-year-old spotted Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) needed help to deliver their Prince’s Trust Team Programme, she didn’t hang about.

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This Spring, the programme is expanding into South Shields and needed someone to take the reins to help young people in the area get involved.

Collette from Sunderland knew her transferrable skills from teaching would help her speak to the young people in a way they can understand.

Now Collette has been backed by leaders at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to transform lives on the new course at South Shields Community Fire Station in her new role as a Diversionary Activities team leader.

She said: “The chance to have an impact on young people in the region is something I’m really looking forward to.

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“When I was a supply teacher, you didn’t get to build those relationships and watch the kids I was working with flourish. It was just get in there and get it done.

“I’m excited to be helping expand the Team Programme in to South Shields and have no doubt that each course we run will be unique just because of the people we have taking part.

“It’s been a steep learning curve to get ready but the delivery team have taken me under their wing and I know they will be there if and when I need them when I’m out on my own.”

Collette Cutler of TWFRSCollette Cutler of TWFRS
Collette Cutler of TWFRS
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TWFRS’s Diversionary Activities Manager John Anderson has backed Collette and is encouraging people to get involved with the next cohort of their Team’s Programme.

John, a former deputy head teacher himself, said: “Collette has really thrown herself into learning how we deliver the Team Programme but I know she will put her own spin on it.

“I can’t wait to see what the people of South Shields can bring to the course and how much it helps the young people grow.

“We all know it can be scary to not know what you want to do with your career but our Team programme aims to help our young people find what they are passionate about and use that to have a career.”

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The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 12 week programme ran by TWFRS in Community Fire Stations across the region.

In those 12 weeks, participants are pushed out of their comfort zone by taking part in teambuilding outward bounds residential course; a community project; a two-week work placement; and a next steps training week.

Throughout the course the young people also learn about first aid, drug and alcohol awareness, and take part in a variety of fire safety training activities – where they train alongside current serving firefighters.

The next course begins on Tuesday, 9 May in Washington, Farringdon, and South Shields Community Fire Stations. Visit the TWFRS website to fill out their online form.

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There is also an open day event at South Shields Community Fire Station from 1-3pm on Thursday, 20 April. This will be an opportunity to meet the team including our very own Collette Cutler, and chat about the programme.

The course will not affect people’s ability to claim benefits, and all travel costs (by bus or metro) will be covered by the programme team.

Under 19s can also apply for a student bursary to enable them to attend the course.

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