Positive Futures Visit for Derbyshire PCC

Derbyshire PCC Alan Charles met up with Gwent PCC Ian Johnston to discover how the Positive Futures project Mr Johnston funds and supports is having a transformational impact on the lives of young people in Gwent and how it has been successfully rolled out throughout the region.

Positive Futures was established in Newport through Home Office funding to Newport City Council in 2002, and is now managed through Newport Live. Positive Futures 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 awarded £240,000 over the last two years to continue to grow the programme in Newport and wider across the Gwent region, with additional financial support from Sport Wales (£70,000) so that more young people could benefit from the support provided to engage young people into sport and physical activity opportunities.

Since April 2013, over 2,000 young people have attended nearly 4,000 sessions organised by the project in Newport alone. And over 1,000 individuals in other parts of Gwent have taken part in nearly 350 sessions since the project was rolled out further afield.

The project has since received additional support and backing from all Local Authorities in Gwent and organisations such as the ASDA Foundation and Active Communities Network.

During the visit to Newport International Sports Village, PCC Alan Charles visited the Wales National Velodrome where he was introduced by Mr Johnston to staff who work for the Positive Futures project and some of the young people taking part in a structured sports session.

He also met 19 year old Daniel Soper from Newport who now works for Positive Futures as a Sports Coach. Daniel entered foster care as a toddler and was forced to move from one home and one school to another around various areas of Gwent. His formative years were unsettled to say the least and he left school with minimal qualifications and wasn't sure what the future had in store for him. Thanks to vital support from Positive Futures, Dan is now on a path to achieving his ambition of becoming a full-time sporting coach. After starting off as a volunteer, he has since amassed a range of qualifications and is now employed by Positive Futures as a paid Casual Coach.

"I was at a point in my life where I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do and I was just trying to act like the cool kid, doing stupid stuff and the groups I was hanging out with at the time weren't that good," recalls Dan.

"Week to week I can see for myself now as a coach how much positive futures changes young people for the better. It enables young people to spend a few hours doing constructive things here instead of causing trouble out on the streets. If it wasn't for Positive Futures, I would be struggling myself."

Welcoming the visit from Derbyshire PCC Alan Charles, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "It's important that Police and Crime Commissioners work together where they can and share best practice on certain areas of work. I'm proud to support the Positive Futures project and the fantastic work that they do with young people in Gwent. I was pleased to welcome Alan Charles and show him how the project 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."

Derbyshire's PCC, Alan Charles, said: "I was really impressed with what I saw in Gwent today and I really appreciate Mr Johnston inviting us down for the day. I was tremendously impressed with the facilities at the international sports village and the work being done by his colleagues at Positive Futures in supporting young people. By channelling their energies into a sporting discipline, these young people are realising the opportunity to do something positive and rewarding with their lives. It was great to meet operational police officers as well to see how they are working in partnership with Positive Futures. I've seen some really positive aspects of work, some of which I will take back with me to Derbyshire to discuss."

He added: "I know that many young people who have used the sporting facilities we fund in Derbyshire have gone on to carve positive futures for themselves which do not involve crime or anti-social behaviour and this has benefits for society as a whole. Sport has a big role to play in helping to give young people confidence and a sense of pride in their achievements, all of which are key motivators to study and find employment."

Stefan Williams, the Newport Partnership Inspector for Gwent Police, said: "I've been working with Positive Futures for about two and a half years. The work that we do includes referrals from the preventions team to the Positive Futures project for children and young people involved in anti-social behaviour. Positive Futures also lead on an anti-social behaviour group in the community where all the partners, including the police, share information. Sports sessions are organised in areas where there are problems and an officer will usually attend to take part in what's going on. We've seen a real reduction in anti-social behaviour during Bonfire Night and Halloween for example. This is massively down to the work that Positive Futures do. It's a superb scheme which is making great strides in tackling crime and ASB in the community. "