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NASDC and StreetGames: a shared vision and a stronger voice

Activity during the Copper Box Festival, part of StreetGames, at Copper Box Arena, London Picture by Alan Stanford/Stella Pictures Ltd +44 7915 056117 04/08/2015

The National Alliance of Sport for the Desistance of Crime now includes almost 250 members, each bringing their own area of knowledge and influence to our quest to put sport at the heart of criminal justice.

One of those members is StreetGames, the charity which has a network of nearly 1,000 local organisations delivering doorstep sport projects in disadvantaged communities across the UK. They are a powerful national force in using sport to lead young people away from crime.

The presence of StreetGames around the NASDC table, with their expertise in community safety, prevention and diversion, strengthens our evidence base and adds another credible voice to our cause.

And, as for all our members, the benefits are mutual. The Alliance’s close relationships with figures within the criminal justice sector mean StreetGames can capitalise on networking and collaboration opportunities, and have a greater influence policy and legislation.

“Being in the Alliance means StreetGames becomes part of a much bigger story and a stronger proposition,” says Stuart Felce, the charity’s Strategic Lead in Community Safety, who has been a key figure in the NASDC’s Positive Action Group on Prevention and Early Intervention since its inception in 2015.

StreetGames had made inroads in talking to police forces and crime commissioners, but joining the Alliance network just opened up a whole different process of thinking for us.

“The network we can engage in is so much larger; we’re able to investigate what evaluation and evidence was out there to back up what we’re telling people, what methodology we can apply to measure the impact of sport interventions, what key partners we can identify to work with and the right academic institutions that have a reputation in this area of work.

StreetGames’ expertise in communities and prevention combined with that of NASDC members working in other areas of criminal justice, such as gangs, looked-after children and prisons, to form a strong, unified voice in pushing for progress and change.

“We’re able to say to ministers, police forces or fire and rescue services, ‘We are now part of an umbrella organisation that encompasses all the different parts of a timeline that a young person might experience, from getting into trouble at a young age to being a convicted adult released into the community’,” he explained.

StreetGames 10Before, I could be having a conversation with the Youth Justice Board, the Association of Magistrates, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and it was just from our perspective of prevention and early intervention. Now, we slot into the Alliance’s much bigger story; there’s a much better narrative to explain our function and we appeal to a much broader, more influential audience.

As well as becoming part of a much more powerful and persuasive argument for sport and desistance from crime, membership of the Alliance has given Stuart access to a massive network of fruitful contacts.

“It feels like it’s not a ‘cold-call’ process any more,” Stuart reveals. “Under an umbrella like the Alliance, conversations happen much quicker, because relationships already exist. James or Justin can instantly connect you with a really good person or organisation they know that would be useful to you.

“Suddenly, an introduction becomes a meeting, followed by a plan, and that translates into very quick action. That’s what I’m all about. I can’t be doing with talking about something for too long without actually getting on with it.

“You can talk about doing something all day long, but what funders want to see is impact. They want to see things happen and see that it’s robust – based on evaluation and academic insight and integrity. The last thing they want is recommendations that are dumped on a shelf and not actioned for another 10 years when the whole sporting cycle goes full cycle again. Just talking isn’t going to help a single young person.”

James Mapstone, Chair of the NASDC, agrees: “One of the things the Alliance is already starting to be known for is getting things done.

“Having Stuart and StreetGames on board strengthens us hugely in terms of the depth of our evidence base in the field of community safety and early intervention. It all helps us to prove the impact of sport on crime and adds another authoritative voice to our argument for sport to play a central role in policy on tackling crime and rehabilitating offenders.”

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