Building Positive Futures in Gwent

18th February 2016

One of the key programmes supported by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) since he came into office has forged a new community partnership which aims to help even more young people at risk of crime and anti-social behaviour in Gwent to access training, education and employment opportunities.

Positive Futures, a programme which uses sport and physical activity to divert young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour will now work with the Asda Foundation and the youth and community development charity, Active Communities Network (ACN), on a joint programme which aims to improve the employability of young people in Gwent through access to sport, training, volunteering and work experience. The University of Gloucestershire will also be researching the impact of this new partnership.

With funding from the Asda Foundation, Positive Futures will aim to annually recruit between 60 and 80 young people who are able to progress into accredited training and will work with ACN to develop young people as peer leaders in the community. They will also support around 50 young leaders throughout Gwent to access work placements or gain employment.

To mark the official launch of the new partnership, representatives from the ASDA Foundation and ACN joined Gwent PCC Ian Johnston and over 200 young people aged 10 -19 from across Gwent last week at a special multi-sports event which was hosted by the Positive Futures programme during the February half-term holidays. With the aim of showcasing the work delivered by Positive Futures and to celebrate the new partnership, the event saw young people participating in a range of activities including football, bubble football, skateboarding, basketball and cage rugby sessions with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Positive Futures was established in Newport through Home Office funding to Newport City Council in 2002, and is now managed through Newport Live. The programme has been providing one to one mentoring for young people and diversionary engagement programmes, training and personal development opportunities which can lead to qualifications or employment. Gwent PCC Ian Johnston has awarded å£240,000 over the last two years to continue to grow the programme in Newport and wider across the Gwent region. The programme has also received additional financial support from Sport Wales (£70,000) so that more young people can benefit from the support provided to engage young people into sport and physical activity opportunities. Positive Futures also receives additional support and backing from all the Local Authorities in Gwent.

Since April 2015, Positive Futures has engaged with 7,285 young people in Gwent, 5,756 of which specifically took part in community diversionary sessions. And since the programme has been rolled out Gwent-wide, the police have noted a reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour in areas where Positive Futures are active. This includes a reduction of 17.9% in ASB incidents over a two-week period in Newport Central which coincided with the deployment of the Positive Futures outreach team into that area. Gwent Police has also seen a real reduction in ASB during Bonfire Night in areas where the programme is active.

Welcoming the additional support for the programme, Gwent PCC Ian Johnston, said: "Positive Futures do fantastic work and this new partnership will add value and make a big difference to a project which already supports thousands of young people to move forward with their lives and realise their full potential. It's important to recognise that projects such as this one are a key element in preventing offending and are making a huge difference to the lives of many at-risk young people in our communities."

Lucy Donovan, the Senior Development Officer for Positive Futures, said: "This new partnership means that we now have enhanced links with employers and training providers and more of a scope for young people to access qualifications. This will enable us to support young people achieving accreditation to develop their leadership skills through placements within the community."

Kevin McPherson, Head of Operations, Active Communities Network, said: "We are delighted to partner with Positive Futures as they adopt a like-minded approach to ourselves. We believe this partnership will have a strong impact bringing the private, statutory and voluntary sector together. Most importantly the University of Gloucestershire will be researching our impact, providing evidence to our work which is traditionally overlooked in programmes such as these."

The Asda Community Life Champion in Gwent, Lucie Brown, said: "Asda are very proud to be partnered with Active Community Network, this has given us the opportunity to work with Positive Futures, on many occasions. We believe that the work Positive Futures do can make a real difference to young people's lives within our local communities. The program offers a great range of activities to young vulnerable adults including sports, arts or tips on getting employment which is really key in our community. We are looking forward to working with them as much as possible in the future."