Over 200 grassroots organisations across England and Wales have been awarded funding from the Government’s £5million Youth Justice Sport Fund to run targeted local sports schemes – from climbing to kayaking – aimed at keeping vulnerable young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour.
Amongst the organisations awarded funding are 34 Club Community Organisations, who are the charities of EFL Football Clubs in England and Wales.
The fund is the first of its kind delivered by the Ministry of Justice and has been co-ordinated by StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport for Criminal Justice, with the support of the Sport for Development Coalition.
Youth crime costs the taxpayer £1.5billion a year and research shows over three quarters of adult prolific offenders received their first caution or conviction as a juvenile, making the need to focus on early prevention even more critical.
Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab, who launched the fund earlier this year said: “I know first-hand how powerful sport and mentoring can be in turning young lives around.
“Sport has the power to boost confidence, build resilience and teach discipline, and evidence suggests sports can be effective in reducing offending among young people. That’s why we’re supporting over 200 organisations across England and Wales to encourage more young people to engage with sport and stay away from crime.”
Plymouth Argyle Community Trust are one CCO who will receive funding to work across two areas, Plymouth, and Cornwall. Their programme in Plymouth is to expand work with young people through positive activities facilitated by Argyle Community Trust along with a mentoring programme for those on the verge of entering the criminal justice system.
In Cornwall the team are working with targeted groups to provide diversionary activities and youth workers to engage groups to provide physical activities. This is supplemented with work by qualified youth workers who will provide support to young people in areas of high deprivation and those that have become disengaged within the local area.
At Stevenage FC Foundation, the funding will allow them to deliver a 12-week programme for teenagers across three sites in Stevenage during periods when anti-social behaviour can be at its highest. Known locally as the Onside Project, these weekly sessions will blend a mixture of sport with 1-2-1 mentoring, delivered by the Foundation’s team of coaches and youth workers. The objective of the sessions is to help young people make positive life choices and begin to understand how the decisions they make now, can by the building blocks for a positive future and a pathway to success.
At Newport County, their ‘POSITIVITY’ project will use the power of football and sport to engage with vulnerable and at-risk children and young people. Their focus is on providing support to those young people aged 14-17 who fall within the secondary tier of need, with the majority residing within the most deprived neighbourhoods of Newport. Young people will be referred on to the programme through key project partners including the police and youth justice teams.
Hitesh Patel, Executive Director of the Coalition, added:
“Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour is a core element of the Coalition’s #OpenGoal framework, which shows how the multiple returns on investment created by sport for development can help to generate significant public cost savings. We are delighted to be working alongside StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice to ensure this new funding supports and strengthens those organisations that can already demonstrate the positive social impact they are having on their local communities.”
Football Club Community Organisations who have been awarded funding are:
Preston North End
The Albion Foundation