The project is delivered in these areas to target, not just the young people who are already caught in the gangs but, those on the periphery of joining gangs.
At Suffolk Positive Futures, we work with a significant number of young people in the project and see its impact all the time – for example, in Nile and Fabio’s stories.
Nile joined the project when he was 13 years old as he had been getting bored and hanging around his estate. He enjoyed football and found out about our Whitton football project which was around the corner from his house. We worked with Nile every week over the next couple of years, encouraging and supporting him to succeed. When Nile turned 16, he wanted to support some of the younger participants, so we put Nile through a football coaching course and a sports leader’s award. He was now volunteering with the project on a weekly basis and engaging with the young people living on his estate.
As a result of his volunteering, Nile’s confidence grew and when he turned 17, he secured a paid sessional position with the project working across the whole county, giving young people the benefit of his life experience and engagement skills. Nile worked within our community and school sessions and combined his part-time role with us with a day job at JD sports.
Nile first walked through the doors of the project back in 2006 and has remained with the project for 16 years. Nile, now 29, is pursuing his long-term goal of supporting underprivileged children in Ethiopia and has moved there with his family, using what he has learned with Suffolk Positive Futures to impact on young people’s lives out there – while gaining international experience.
Fabio joined the project when he was 14 years old and was involved in some low level anti-social behaviour. He was encouraged to attend activities in his local area and started coming to our sessions regularly when one of our coaches suggested boxing and offered to coach him at the local boxing club. Fabio is now an English heavy weight champion, and his Suffolk Positive Futures coach back then is still his coach now.
Fabio says he maintained the relationship with his coach because “he was an important figure in the beginning of those early stages in my life where I was going through something.” Fabio tells more of his story in the Fight Night Boxing podcast episode (30:10).
Tackling youth violence
The Suffolk Positive Futures programmes keeps young people engaged in a safe, worthwhile activity and promotes the creation of a regular sporting habit. Offering a positive and productive alternative to crime, this early intervention stage is where our project has its biggest impact.