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Positive Futures expanding impact on crime in Gwent

The outstanding work of Positive Futures in using sport as a tool to reduce crime is expanding across south-east Wales, with new partnerships and collaborations boosting their impact.

Started in Newport in 2002 with Home Office funding as part of a national programme, the Police Crime Commissioner for Gwent took over in 2013. By the following year it had expanded across Gwent, enabling young people across the county to engage in youth inclusion, diversionary and activity-based projects.

Positive Futures use a multi-agency approach involving schools, social services, youth offending teams, the police and local sports clubs to meet each young person’s individual needs with a personal package of support based around sport.

Lucy Donovan, Positive Futures’ Senior Development Officer, provided insight into one project in Caerphilly: “We have an extensive programme there where we receive referrals for young people from the Caerphilly County Borough Education Other Than At School panel.

“Young people who have been excluded from mainstream education are discussed and we refer them on to the appropriate sport placements for between one and five days per week. They do one-to-one sessions with mentors where they work towards qualifications and can try different activities like mountain biking, swimming, gym and fitness.

“There’s also a diversionary programme where community safety partners highlight areas across the authority with high levels of anti-social behaviour and crime. We will put on outreach events, get people engaged, taking part in sport and generating a community feeling.”

SHOWCASING THE IMPACT

In late March 2019, a showcase event involving key partners and funders provided a vivid demonstration of the organisation’s positive impact on young people in an area of Caerphilly particularly badly affected by anti-social behaviour and crime.

Lucy said: “One of the guys [Ben Dudley] at our showcase event spoke about the impact on a particularly notorious area, Lansbury Park, describing how the connection forged with coaches at a local football club helped engage and divert young people away from negative peer groups and habits.”

The Alliance of Sport’s Co-Founder and Secretariat, Justin Coleman, was one of the fascinated attendees at the showcase event.

He said: “The open honesty, energy and commitment from all staff was exceptional. It was fascinating to learn about the unity and resilience being delivered in the community. The offering is person/young person-centred – developed in partnership with, and truly accessible for, young people.

“While there I listened to and spoke with very energetic, active and grateful young people, who couldn’t see life without the support from this service. Many of them have had a fraught journey to be where they are today.

“Dedicated staff who have lived experience and local knowledge have made the service vibrant and a true community asset, daily. Positive Futures Gwent are driving a Public Health Approach and building resilience, not only for the young people, but families and communities alike.”

NEW PROJECTS

In September 2018, Newport was one of a number of areas in the UK given Home Office funding to help with the city’s issues regarding Serious Organised Crime. As part of this pilot project, One Newport offered partners the opportunity to bid to see how they could work together to help tackle the issue.

Positive Futures was part of a bid with Barnardo’s establishing the Divert project. Barnardo’s’ key workers provide a therapeutic approach to the issues of referred young people and Positive Futures (delivered via Newport Live) led engagement of the referrals on a 1:1 basis offering diversionary sport-based activities.

“The Divert project, in partnership with Barnardo’s, is a great example of how we’ve developed our role so that sport plays a part in how local services all work together to tackle local issues,” says Lucy. “We are definitely getting a place at the table in terms of our interventions and people recognising the impact our projects and expertise can have on crime and communities.”

Another relatively new pilot is a primary school early intervention project funded via the PCC from the Home Office Early intervention Youth Fund looking at issues related to Serious Violence.

Positive Futures coordinates all elements of this project and organise therapeutic workshops with partners such as Women’s Aid, the police, fire service and drug and alcohol services. Positive Futures then lead sport-based activities at local football and boxing clubs for pupils identified as having potential issues with violence.

Lucy concludes: “I have a long background working in these areas and success comes from building up that relationship with a young person. It’s finding that affinity with someone from the same area and background. Behaviour change comes from the right package of support; local role models, volunteering and education opportunities and an attractive sport offer.”

For more information about Positive Futures, click here.

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