LONG-TERM unemployed people from Southend are being helped back to work by a course run by the fire service.

The Firebreak course, at Hawkwell fire station, gave 15 people basic firefighter training, including the chance to use hoses and breathing apparatus, in an effort to boost their confidence and teamwork and decision-making skills The course was part of a £23,000 six-month project funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The aim is to develop life skills in long-term unemployed people better to prepare them for the world of work, or training.

Southend Council and community interest companies such as the SeeJobGroup, Comfy Saddle and Cook4Life are involved, as are NHS Trainers, Legacy Leisure and Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

By the end of the project, 60 unemployed adults will have been on courses offering, personal training, job hunting help and advice on shopping economically and preparing healthy meals as well as the Firebreak course.

Southend Council deputy leader John Lamb said: “This is an immensely positive project to help people who have long struggled to find work overcome some of their hurdles and face the future with confidence.”