‘Excellent’ project tackles youth crime

The weekly football project in Haverhill is one of Catch 22, Suffolk Positive Futures' open access s

The weekly football project in Haverhill is one of Catch 22, Suffolk Positive Futures' open access sessions, providing free sporting activity for all young people who want to take part. Other sessions include referrals. Picture: CATCH 22, POSITIVE FUTURES - Credit: Catch22, Suffolk Positive Futures

A project aimed at transforming young lives while cutting crime has been praised for its ‘excellent’ work addressing re-offending.

The Catch22, Suffolk Positive Futures programme offers free activities as an alternative to crime and antisocial behaviour.

Building on the success of the national Positive Futures scheme, the local project received £85,000 from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to deliver activities across Suffolk during 2017-18.

Since then, it has reached 1,964 youngsters (694 in Ipswich), generating more than 12,000 attendances at sports and physical sessions, including boxing, girls’ football and street dance.

Of 48 individuals referred by the Suffolk Youth Offending Service or external agencies, 34 have since stopped offending. Project manager Paul Knight and project coordinator Mike Chaplin updated the PCC on progress at a performance and accountability panel meeting.

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Mr Knight said: “The re-offending figure is one we’re really pleased with. We feel it demonstrates strong progress.

“The people delivering sessions are key role models. Some came through the project themselves. They know the young people and the young people know them.

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“We operate with quite a bit of flexibility. We don’t tell young people they have to do this, or they have to do that. Some of those talks take place out on the sports field, not in a room where they are asked what they could do differently.

“We know our project won’t necessarily tackle gangs themselves, but there is certainly a massive role for us in dealing with young people on the periphery. It’s about early intervention and offering a worthwhile alternative.”

In the last year, 31 young people not in education, or excluded from school, gained a qualification.

The project also secured another £72,837 funding to further support young people in Suffolk.

PCC Tim Passmore said: “Positive Futures has done excellent work with young people, many of whom have not had the best start in life.

“They are able to reach people we might find it challenging to reach, helping them to stop offending and make the right choices in life.”

Visit catch-22.org.uk and search for ‘Suffolk’ to find out more.

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