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Agoraphobic leaves house thanks to Fire Service programme

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Credit: Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

A young woman crippled by agoraphobia has gained the self-confidence to be outdoors again after completing a Fire Service community programme.

The 21-year-old rarely left her Wallsend home before taking part in a free 12-week personal development programme with The Princes Trust.

When Charlotte Narey learned about the course, she decided it was time to face her fears and sign up.

The course entitled Team is delivered by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

Narey said: “I have been able to totally re-evaluate how I view the outside world.

“The course was such a massive confidence booster for me.  It was just what I was looking for as I wanted something to help me engage more in my social life.”

“It has been like pressing a restart button on my life.”

Before the course, Narey would only leave the house once-a-week to visit her mother. Sometimes, she wouldn’t even do this and could be stuck inside for almost a month.

She had been suffering with agoraphobia since before the pandemic, starting around the time she left school.

At one point, Narey was spending months on end inside.

After deciding to move in with her grandparents, Narey heard about Team from her grandmother’s friend.

The course is aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 years old, who might be at a personal crossroads.

Split into several interesting areas across three months, it includes a 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.

Go here to learn more about the course.

Since attending the course last September at Gosforth Community Fire Station, Narey has never looked back.

Narey added: “A few months ago due to my agoraphobia I would never have dreamt of going outside to take part in gorge walking and canoeing with a new circle of friends. It is totally amazing!”

The Prince’s Trust and TWFRS partnership has helped over 500 young people to develop their skills, knowledge, behaviours and attributes.

Head of Prevention and Education, Steven Thomas, said: “The aim of the course is to try and provide young people like Charlotte with essential life skills that can be used to help them gain future employment, turn a corner in their personal lives, or hopefully lead to education or training opportunities.”

The Prince’s Trust urges young people to take advantage of the “vital support” the course offers, which has helped “transform the lives of hundreds of young people like Charlotte.”

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Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022

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Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.

Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.

The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.

Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.

“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.

“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”

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Family’s bid to bring home body of Gateshead lad who drowned while rescuing his dog in Spain

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Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, who has been living in Spain, was pulled from a river near Benidorm by ambulance crews on Monday.

A Gateshead family is appealing for help to bring an ‘amazing, selfless’ 25-year-old home, after he drowned in Spain while rescuing his dog from a river.

Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, after successfully freeing the dog from the current. Now his family has launched a fundraising appeal to help bring Paul’s body back home and give him the memorial he deserves.

Paul’s cousin, Kallym Bell, launched a GoFundMe page in support of Paul’s parents, Deborah and Paul Snr. In less than 24 hours the page had already raised over £7,000, with hundreds of people leaving comments paying tribute to ‘one of nicest men you could ever meet’.

Keen amateur boxer Paul was well known by many people across the Leam Lane Estate, and beloved by colleagues from the several years he spent working in the navy. Kallym, 19, called Paul: “An amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold, always the biggest laugh and the very best to be around.”

Donations can be made to help bring Paul home at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-remembrance-of-paul-lebihan

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Disabled Teen Denied Wetherspoon’s Entry With Assistance Dog

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A disabled teenager said he felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after he was refused entry to a Wetherspoons with his assistance dog. 19 year old River Cartledge, who has autism, fibromyalgia and arthritis – takes his assistance dog Chico most places with him.

Video footage below from Instagram shows him pleading with security guards and the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to let him inside the pub with his harnessed up Shih Tzu on Saturday night.

River said: “Their issue was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog.

“I quoted the Equality Act 2010, and the guide for all businesses, both of which any business that’s open to the public like any Wetherspoons is, have to abide by legally, regardless of any “policy” they may have in place,” he added.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. It also requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers.

River claimed he had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’ after the interaction. ‘I have never had an experience like this and it caused me to have a medical episode.’

Chico has belonged to River for eight years and was trained as an assistance dog two years ago. River said: “Assistance dog handlers such as myself get denied in public places more often than it’s talked about, and it always makes us feel like this, and like we’re the ones causing problems for ourselves by needing a dog, when in reality it’s the ableism and ignorance of other people, not the disabled person.”

He also added “‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”.

According to Guide Dogs UK ‘75% of all assistance dog owners surveyed [in 2015] said they had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them’. 

Five Swans: sign saying they allow assistance dogs *face palm*

Wetherspoons’ policy states: “We do allow registered assistance dogs.

“In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. 

“It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.”

River said he had ID from Assistance Dogs UK, a certification body, with him but was unable to show it at the time. Chico was however wearing a harness.

Following the complaint to the pub chain, Wetherspoon’s spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “It was an error not to let them in with the assistance dog.

“It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

“We can understand the fact they would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

“Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company’s pubs in general.

“They are more than welcome to visit the pub with the dog.”

Good dog Chico. Check out River and Chico’s adventures here!

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