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PCC opens new youth hub to help divert young people away from gangs, violence and anti social behaviour

21 Feb 2020

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has formally opened a new youth meeting point for young people in Shefford after funding its refurbishment.

The project in Millennium Green, Shefford, has been backed with £5,000 of funding from the Commissioner’s new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) which works with communities as well as partners such as local councils, the Youth Offending Service and charities to combat youth violence and wider crime.

Shefford Town Council and the Grand Union Housing Group project will also work with other VERU-backed projects to engage with children and young people in the town.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be able to back this project that gives young people somewhere to go and allows the very talented youth workers running projects in the town to have a location for mentoring. 

"I couldn’t be more impressed by the approach of Shefford Town Council, which is frankly a model for all such councils across Bedfordshire, in stepping into the void of youth provision after school and in the school holidays now so many youth clubs and extra curricular activities no longer exist. 

“The Mayor, Paul Mackin, and his councillors work ceaselessly with Bedfordshire Police’s Community Policing Hub for North Bedfordshire to deliver enforcement where crime is being committed but we all, also, want to step in earlier before involvement in Anti Social Behaviour or gangs blights these young lives and those of victims,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The project in Shefford has enabled former changing rooms to be brought back into use for a range of sessions for young people. As well as sports activities, the space will also be used to facilitate a bike repair project, mentoring young people, employment support and drop in sessions.

The project has been driven forward by the town council and, in particular, Nicola King, a town councillor and youth participation officer at Grand Union. 

The housing association is running an outreach programme in the town where youth workers mount patrols to engage with young people and offer them advice.

The 'Inspiring People' project, which is running workshops with young people teaching them skills such as photography and media production, will also be holding sessions at the youth hub.

Both of these projects have been funded by the VERU.

As well as the VERU, the PCC also recently ran a separate grant funding round from her £1.6m Commissioner’s Fund for projects focussing on early intervention for young people, with a focus on drivers of crime such as drugs.

Councillor Mackin said: "Shefford Town Council has operated a vigorous youth activities programme for several years. Recently, we became aware that the needs of young people were changing with the growing criminal activity moving into the area, compounded by a lack of resources in other social services departments.

"This meant that the requirements of the young people were becoming more difficult to fulfil; they need a deeper level mentoring and supervision service rather than just a simple recreational activity. 

"Thanks to the funding provided by the PCC, we were able to renovate a disused building that will be staffed by qualified volunteers, led by town councillor Nicola King, to provide dedicated mentoring and one-on-one counselling. 

"The youth hub will be used by our youth involvement team to carry out this work and a full range of activities, as well as a secure meeting place and, with the provision of an internet connection, a range of communication facilities. We are truly grateful to the PCC for the opportunity to create this youth hub for the benefit of the young people in Shefford.”

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