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How Streetbase ‘maps’ at-risk young people to sporting opportunities

The Streetbase programme combines sport, young people and an innovative ‘activity map’ to support young people at-risk of crime in Waltham Forest, East London.

Funded by the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners fund for the next three years, Streetbase sees 34 trained young people aged 15-24 head out on patrol in small groups to areas identified as being hot spots for young people to hang out. There, they talk and signpost them to local activities that will engage them effectively, including football, cricket, dance and music sessions which are part of PC Jason Hill’s Friday night project.

PC Hill, who is Youth Engagement Coordinator for the Metropolitan Police, has drawn up an ‘activity map’ identifying the hot spots where Streetbase engage young people who may be in need of support. He works closely with Katy Thompson, coordinator of the Streetbase programme, to ensure every local at-risk young person is matched with an activity on their database of local provision.

We spoke to Katy about Streetbase’s aims, methods and impact.

What makes Streetbase so successful?

“Streetbase is a 100% youth-led programme, which is what makes it unique: it’s for young people, about young people, run by young people. A feature which adds to our success is the follow-up process after a patrol. When engaging with a young person, we aim to make a connection with that individual and then work on maintaining that relationship. That way, we can support each young person along their journey; and they know there’s someone who believes in them.”

How much of a role does sport play in its success?

“Sport does play a big role in the success of Streetbase, as many of our young people are interested in sports in all its forms. Without sports activities, we wouldn’t be able to effectively signpost these young people to something which will occupy their time; and the alternative, which we are working to avoid at all costs, is being on the streets.

Sports is non-discriminatory. It allows everybody to feel welcome and part of something, worthy of their contribution. That within itself, is hugely impactful.”

Who came up with the idea of an activity map and can you sum up its purpose?

“Streetbase is all about making connections and building partnerships in our community. So when Jason Hill, our Youth Engagement Officer (pictured above in red), told me about an ‘activity map’ he had pieced together, I was all for filling the gaps! The activity map shows us the hotspots in the borough where young people tend to congregate the most. These include streets, chicken shops and parks. Being aware of these hotspots means we can target and reach the young people who spend time there more easily; engaging with them on a level they are able to respond to positively.”

Are there any plans to develop the idea, perhaps make it an online resource?

“It is very difficult to make this activity map an online resource, as it is constantly changing. Hotspots move around all the time, for all sorts of different reasons. That’s why it is key to have Streetbase patrollers on the ground tracking the popular places in our area. For now, we continue to work alongside our partners to gain further information on where young people congregate; also keeping key partners such as Jason Hill updated on our findings.

However, we hope to keep adding to the activity map, expanding it to link to clubs and services which we know are available in the area. This way, we can see what specific geographical areas require, in order to improve the opportunities open to the young people in those localities.”

Streetbase is a national award-winning peer-to-peer mentoring programme, part of the national Young Advisors movement. 

For more information on the Streetbase programme, follow them on Twitter.

Main pic: Cllr Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Waltham Forest, and Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Waltham Forest, pictured with Streetbase team 

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