Homeless teens get a taste of Army life

Youngsters currently staying in the Streetlife homeless shelter spent a day at Weeton Barracks. Below: Sgt Major Darren Holmes puts the youngsters through their paces.

Youngsters currently staying in the Streetlife homeless shelter spent a day at Weeton Barracks. Below: Sgt Major Darren Holmes puts the youngsters through their paces.

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Youngsters being supported by a Blackpool homeless shelter have been given a taste for life in the Army – and were left thirsty for more.

Nine young people aged 16 to 25, and interested in a career in the forces, got to grips with machine guns and sniper rifles at Weeton Barracks’ indoor range and tackled a gruelling assault course.

Sgt Major Darren Holmes puts the youngsters through their paces.

Sgt Major Darren Holmes puts the youngsters through their paces.

Peter Tomkinson, an ex-soldier who served 28 years with the 2nd battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, now works for Streetlife and organised the day at his old barracks.

He said: “They saw what soldiers get up to everyday, were given instructions on the weapons they use and went for a ride around the training area and cross-country in a WMIK, which is a Land Rover with a machine gun on the top.

“The aim of the day was to look at personal challenges, teamwork and communication and we definitely achieved that.

“It’s very easy for people to stay in their comfort zone but we don’t get anywhere in life without pushing ourselves.

“There were a couple of times on the assault course when people wanted to give up, but with a bit of encouragement they kept going and did it.”

A WMIK or Weapons Mounted Installation Kit was most recently used by troops in Afghanistan and gave the youngsters an idea of the equipment used in today’s British Army.

Chris Glover, 25, has been in an out of the Streetlife shelter, on Buchanan Street, Blackpool, for two years.

He said: “It was educational and a fun day.

“I learned a lot of team building and communication skills and it was good to push myself to the limit.

“I’m looking into joining the Army and this was a good opportunity for me to give it a go.”

John Hudson, 23, of Charles Street, Blackpool, has used the shelter for personal support over the last five months.

He added: “The gun range and the assault course were excellent and sitting on the back of the vehicles as they drove around was great.

“It was a good experience to learn some team building skills.”

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