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North East Youngsters Tackle Football Rivalry

Young people representing Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC are working together to find ways of reducing rivalry between young football fans.

As part of ‘Building Bridges’, backed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, participants from Foundation of Light’s Kicks programme travelled to Tyneside to meet with their peers from Newcastle United Foundation ahead of this weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby at St James’ Park.

Delivered in secondary schools and during Kicks sessions, Building Bridges workshops address peer pressure, substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health issues, giving young people knowledge and understanding of each topic.

As part of the joint project, participants from both Foundations have set up their own steering groups with the idea of working more closely together on projects and becoming role models for their communities.

Ian Corner, Senior Informal Educator at Foundation of Light, said: “Building Bridges is a very progressive programme which uses the derby as a way of helping tackle crime and anti-social behaviour between young fans.

“All of the teenagers who are taking part have really taken on board the spirit of the programme and are a credit to their football clubs and the region as a whole.”

‘Building Bridges’ was made possible by Commissioner Baird who awarded £20,000 from the Community Safety Fund towards the project in 2014.

Steve Mack, Newcastle United Foundation’s Project Manager, added: “Our Building Bridges Programme has successfully brought the two clubs together.

“The steering groups provide the ideal platform for young people from Newcastle and Sunderland to sit down and discuss current issues in and around the derby, as well as how they can be involved in the planning of future events to promote unity between the two sets of fans and our Kicks projects.”

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