Public Help PCC to Decide

Danilo Padilha, a Community Development Worker with Communities First at Newport City Council and 17 year old Kira Bennett from Cwmbran, sat on Gwent PCC Ian Johnston's Partnership Fund decision making panel which met in Cwmbran today (Thursday June 4th).

The Commissioner's Partnership Fund grant scheme is funded by the proceeds of crime awarded to the police and from the sale of unclaimed found property. This includes money seized from organised crime and convicted drug dealers who have been ordered to pay back some of their ill-gotten gains.

More than 200 applications were submitted in the latest round (February 2015) from charities, voluntary organisations and community groups in Gwent involved in activities that have a positive impact on their communities. Each year, young people and members of the community from various parts of Gwent are provided the opportunity to sit on the decision making panel for the Partnership Fund.

In addition to members of the team from the PCCs office, Kira and Danilo were joined by a representative from the Gwent Police and Crime Panel on the decision making forum. The successful projects will be announced by the Commissioner next month.

Groups who applied for a share of the funding had to demonstrate the positive impact their project would have on their community whilst contributing to delivering the Commissioner's priorities for Gwent which include preventing and reducing crime; taking more effective action to tackle anti-social behaviour and to protect people from serious harm. Each group was able to apply for funding up to the region of £10,000.
Seventeen year old Kira Bennett from Cwmbran was representing the Torfaen Young People's Forum on the decision making panel today of which she has been a member for three years.

Reflecting on her experience, Kira, said: "Today was a chance for me to help decide which projects should get the funding. It was a tough challenge because there are so many good ones and everyone on the decision making forum has different views on things. I've been providing a young person's perspective and I've hopefully widened the other members' views on things they wouldn't have known if I wasn't there to tell them. Working with people with a range of experiences and from different age groups and backgrounds has been great for my confidence. Today has inspired me to want to work more closely with community projects and has given me a real appreciation for the work that they do."

Originally from Brazil, Danilo Padilha moved to Wales in 2004 and has been employed as a Community Development Worker with Communities First at Newport City Council since 2007.

"My daily job involves addressing the diverse needs of our communities and it's this experience which I brought with me to the table today," explained Danilo.

"I saw the effort that the Commissioner and his team were investing in this Fund and I wanted to be a part of that and make a positive contribution to the decision making process in some way. What's impressed me today is the effort the decision making panel has put in and it's safe to say that there has been a healthy debate around some of the projects with some strongly opposing views. It's been a great process and I would be more than happy to come back or be involved again."

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "This was an excellent opportunity for members of the public to have a say on where the money goes and to be part of a process that can make a genuine positive difference to people's lives in Gwent. It is humbling that we received so many applications again this year and to see how many projects genuinely need this money in Gwent. It shows there is a real need for my Partnership Fund and it is fitting to see money recovered from criminal activity going back to benefit local communities."

The projects shortlisted for further consideration today will now be put forward to the Commissioner for final deliberation and approval. The successful projects will be announced next month.

This is the third round of the Partnership Fund the Commissioner has delivered since 2012. Forty seven projects were awarded a share of more than £182,000 in Gwent last year. The projects included the Tillery Combat Mixed Martial Arts in Blaina, the Eden Gate Homeless Charity in Newport and the Lylac Ridge Animal Learning Centre in Risca.