Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has today named the Foundation of Light as one of 30 organisations to receive funding to help teenagers at risk of violence.
The Foundation will benefit from a share of nearly £1m to help cut crime, as Miss McGuinness sets-up the North East’s first ever Violence Reduction Unit after she was elected earlier this year.
Projects benefiting from the funding include Foundation of Light’s Kicks Town scheme, which uses sport to engage young people in worthwhile activities as well as the charity’s YOLO project which works with eight to 14-year-olds who are at risk of slipping into a life of crime. The project works hard to prevent young people from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, knife crime and serious youth violence.
The Violence Reduction Unit has a team dedicated to preventing violence among at risk teenagers and adults as part of joint efforts to reduce violent crime and make sure vital youth and community services can continue their work after 10 years of austerity.
Focusing on early intervention, youth diversion, mental health, drugs, alcohol and homelessness the unit was established following the success of similar set ups in Glasgow, where police, councils, the NHS and charities worked with communities to treat violence as a public health emergency. This approach saw at risk people targeted early in order to prevent crime and is credited with a 50% reduction in some violent offending.
As part of the project, Foundation of Light has committed to taking a public health approach to crime fighting, working with Northumbria Police, six local authorities, health, education, and other service providers to better understand the root causes of violent crime.
Head of Informal and Community Education Michael Colclough said “We are looking forward to working with the Violence Reduction Unit, Northumbria Police and the Police Crime Commissioner to play our part in a preventative approach to, what is sadly, an increasing problem.
We have already worked closely with a number of at-risk young people and their families, supporting them to make the right decisions and improve their opportunities.
The only way to combat this societal problem is through prevention and working with the young people themselves, to show them that there is a better choice and to help them take the right path.”
Miss McGuinness said: “Violent crime is a symptom of inequality, and like a contagious disease it spreads if we don’t treat it. By taking urgent measures now we can prevent this. By establishing a Violence Reduction Unit, we are saying loud and clear, we will not accept rising crime in our region.
“Northumbria is not a violent place, it’s safe and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep it that way. I’m incredibly proud that so many local organisations, from charities to housing providers, have quickly come together with local councils and our NHS and committed to the goal of preventing crime before it happens.
Funding for the Violence Reduction Unit was secured by the Police Commissioner from the Home Office. At present, funding is only in place until March 2020, and the Commissioner has called on all political parties to commit to providing a dedicated interventions fund from next year onwards.
16 December 2019