Positive Futures Award in Memory of Curtis

25th February 2016

The Positive Futures programme, part of which uses sports and physical activity to divert young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB), will present an award each year from now on in memory of 13 year old Curtis Murphy, one of the programmes referrals who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in June last year.

His family, including his parents and grandparents, will be attending the Positive Futures End of Year Showcase event in Newport today (Wednesday 2nd March 2016) where the annual 'Mentee of the Year Award' will be presented in his name for the first time to a young person referred to the programme who has strived to realise their potential.

Managed through Newport Live, Positive Futures was established in 2002 and 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.

The annual showcase event at the Riverfront centre in Newport provides an opportunity for funders and partner agencies to see the significant outcomes Positive Futures has achieved with young people from across Gwent in the last year. These include Gwent PCC Ian Johnston, who funds the majority of the programme, Sport Wales, Welsh Rugby Union, the Asda Foundation, the Active Communities Network charity and the five local authorities in Gwent.

Curtis was a pupil at Caerleon Comprehensive School and was one of 345 young people from all over Gwent specifically referred to the Positive Futures programme last year to receive mentoring and one to one support after he disengaged from the traditional school environment.

His family explained this week how the programme helped him when he needed it the most and spoke of their utter devastation at the passing of the popular Newport teenager who was just starting to get his life back track with support from Positive Futures. According to the family, this award will be a fitting tribute and will help keep his memory alive.

His father, Lewis Murphy, said: "I think the staff at Positive Futures grabbed his attention, understood him and he got on well with them all. He left his mark wherever he went and people loved him. He was kind, sensitive and very funny. I'm so proud that this award is in his name and will be for the future. To reward a young person who has turned their life around and to have his name associated with it is a fitting tribute."

Curtis's mother, Sally Willis, said: "This award means that he will always be remembered. He was so funny and he used to crack me up. Something was needed to turn him round at the time and Positive Futures was the answer. He enjoyed it and it made a massive difference to him."

According to Trish Barry, Curtis's Grandmother, he would get really excited about attending the programme on a Thursday and wouldn't let anything else get in the way.

"Positive Futures always came first for him and when I met the staff I could understand why he engaged with them," explained Trish.

"He could have gone down a slippery slope but through the efforts of the school and Positive Futures, he totally turned his life around and that's why it was even more of a shock when he passed away. It's massively important that projects like this are in place and his memory will live on through this special award."

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston has awarded Positive Futures £240,000 over the last two years to continue to grow the programme in Newport and wider across the Gwent region. A total of 7,285 individuals throughout Gwent engaged with the programme in the last year and the police have noted a reduction in incidents of ASB in areas where it is 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.

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston said: "As we have heard from Curtis's family, Positive Futures do some fantastic work in the community and support thousands of young people to move forward with their lives and realise their full potential. This event is all about highlighting and celebrating the huge difference this special programme has made to the lives of so many at-risk young people in our communities." Lucy Donovan, the Senior Development Officer for Positive Futures, added: "Curtis was a caring and popular teenager and was regarded as real character by all who worked with him at the programme. The Mentee of the Year Award in his name will be presented to one of our young referrals who has strived their utmost to realise their potential this year."