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Harnessing the power of StreetDance to combat crime

UDOIT -1-IMG_3099The UDOIT! Dance Foundation has used StreetDance to reduce youth offending and boost physical activity since 2014. They have now reached a critical phase in their growth – and have called on the Alliance of Sport‘s help.

UDOIT! – a registered charity founded by the world-famous UDO Street Dance organisation – uses dance as a diversionary and engagement tool, helping young people back into education, helping to reduce offending and re-offending rates, reduce truancy and keep young people mentally and physically healthy.

The Foundation uses partners around the UK to help them identify areas of need. They then hook up with local StreetDance practitioners and potential young leaders in the area, training, mentoring and supporting them in building the vibrancy, effectiveness and sustainability of each project. 

UDOIT LogoStoke is a particular hive of activity (thanks to a partnership with Stoke City Football Foundation) with other hubs in Wales, Scotland, Manchester, Sheffield and Portsmouth. Driven by funding from Sport England and Sport Wales, their network of projects is expanding ever more rapidly.

But with this funding comes a requirement familiar to any organisation in the Sport for Development sector – proving their impact. As Chief Executive of UDOIT! Daran Bennett explains: “We know how powerful StreetDance is, but now it’s a case of fully understanding what that effect is. How do we really measure and prove the success of what we do? 

“What should we be embedding as we grow, so that we can measure the impact of what we do and contribute some good evidence to the Alliance’s database? And what other projects and programmes are out there where we think StreetDance can have an impact? 

Many Sport for Development organisations doing great work are in a similar position. Monitoring and evaluation is a key area where the Alliance of Sport can provide support.

Street-dance-112This is exactly why we developed the sectorwide Theory of Change,” says Alliance of Sport Chair and Co-Founder James Mapstone. “We hope it helps many organisations that have a similar need to UDOIT!, helping them better evidence the impact of their work on the desistance from crime. 

“It’s for this reason we also launched our Positive Action Group on Research, Quality and Evidence. By supporting the sector to properly record their impact, we can generate the evidence needed to inform policy and practice.” 

James adds: “We are proud to have the UDOIT! Dance Foundation in our network and will be helping them to raise awareness and connect with dance projects and professionals with similar aims and interests.” 

UDOIT! in action 

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One StreetDance project supported by the UDOIT! Foundation takes place at Rossie Young People’s Trust, a secure school for troubled young people in Montrose, Scotland. Delivered by a local organisation, Showcase The Street, the project works with girls aged 12-16. 

“They’re what you may call the ‘hardest of the hardcore,'” says Showcase The Street founder Fergus Storrier, a former policeman and youth justice co-ordinator. 

“It’s about building relationships, earning the girls’ trust and giving them confidence,” he explains. “Many of them have mental health issues and have experienced sexual abuse. Their disrupted backgrounds mean their behavioural patterns can change very quickly, so the activity must be fluid, not structured. 

“Ultimately, it’s about getting them to engage in something positive and normal, which they may never have had before. It’s about getting to know them, listening and getting them to open up to you. The dance is actually the ancilliary bit; it operates as a vehicle for achieving all those outcomes.” 

With the Alliance’s help, the UDOIT! Dance Foundation is now seeking to build a robust evidence base that proves those outcomes – which will attract more funding and ultimately help them broaden and deepen the impact of StreetDance across the UK.

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