A county-wide project offering free, open access sport and physical activity as a positive alternative to crime, violence and anti-social behaviour in Suffolk, recently reached a major milestone, working with over 5,000 young people aged between 10-19 and achieving an impressive 50,600 attendances to the project.
Catch22 Suffolk Positive Futures currently operates in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Leiston, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Mildenhall, Haverhill, Brandon and Lowestoft and there has been a 37% reduction in the recorded number of anti-social behaviour incidents since 2014, in these locations. The project aims to transform young people’s lives and make a significant impact on reducing crime and youth violence in local communities.Known and trusted staff reach out to young people within their community, giving them positive role models and an opportunity to gain qualifications. Mostly, young people attend the sessions by self-referral. They simply turn up and join in with the community activities, although agencies can also refer to a specific session.
They often work with local schools to promote what they do by running free taster sessions at lunchtimes and they help educate children on the benefits of getting involved in sport or physical activity. The majority of volunteers at Suffolk Positive Futures are young people who have come through the service and gone from being a participant to wanting to give something back to the project.
Paul Knight, Suffolk Positive Futures Project Manager said:
“Obviously we can’t take all the credit for the reduction in the recorded number of anti-social behaviour incidents, however, our free weekly sessions of football, boxing, street dance and multi sports continue to attract large numbers of young people and we definitely offer a positive alternative to poor behavioural choices”.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner said:
“I have seen first-hand the positive impact that Suffolk Positive Futures can have on young people and I’d like to think the reduction in anti-social behaviour can be linked in some way to the various programmes funded through my crime and disorder reduction grants.
“All too often young people make a wrong choice as teenagers and this limits their choices in the future. By showing our young people how to make positive life choices they become good citizens and giving them positive role models will help them to become more confident and principled adults.
“Whilst I know it’s not all about sport and dance, nevertheless this approach helps our youngsters know what’s right or wrong and to have a purpose in life. I am a huge supporter of Suffolk Positive Futures and will continue to help them whenever I can – more power to their elbow!”
As well as the weekly community sessions and the school holiday programmes they run, Suffolk Positive Futures has also established five ‘Doorstep Sport Clubs’ in Ipswich and Lowestoft, as part of a national programme called ‘StreetGames’, to encourage young people facing difficult or challenging circumstances into sport.
The Doorstep Sport Clubs are made possible through a partnership with Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council & Waveney District Council.
Abdul Razaq the Director of Public Health at Suffolk County Council said:
“We know that children from lower income households are less likely to take part in sport than their more affluent counterparts. The work that Suffolk Positive Futures does to engage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is especially important in helping those in the most difficult circumstances take up a sporting habit for life. To have engaged 5,000 young people in physical activity is an important contribution to Suffolk’s efforts of becoming the most active county in England.”