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Northumbria PCC Kim McGuinness praises anti-knife crime scheme with Newcastle United Foundation

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has got to know teenagers on target to fulfilling their potential thanks to early intervention work delivered by Newcastle United Foundation.

Young men and women at risk of slipping into a life of crime without guidance and support are mentored by the Newcastle United charity, challenging their perceptions of police and authorities and encouraging them into education.

The Commissioner spent time listening to participants taking part in the YOLO Project at a practical session at Lemington Football Centre which stands at the heart of the Newcastle City Councillor’s ward.

Working with Foundation staff, the group discussed the risks and consequences of anti-social behaviour, knife crime and serious youth violence and took on a practical workshop together.

The project is delivered by mentoring teams at the charity alongside Northumbria Police and Youth Justice Services. Children and teenagers can be referred to YOLO through their school, the Force’s neighbourhood policing teams or through the social justice system.

The Commissioner saw team-building exercises, physical games and quick-fire questions in the Lemington facility, which opened in the neighbourhood in November 2018.

Jacqueline Critchley, Newcastle United Foundation Youth Violence Project Coordinator, said: “Working in partnership with Northumbria Police and the Northumbria PCC, the YOLO Project is really starting to generate some excellent success stories with young people demonstrating positive changes in their behaviours and attitudes.

“The relationships we are able to create between participants and mentors are truly remarkable and ensure the programme gets the best out of these young people.

“It has been fantastic for Kim to come down and see the work first-hand and to meet some of our participants who are engaging so well. We have some big plans for the programme and we are looking forward to bringing them to light.”

The Foundation also supports young people by signposting them onto other projects that could help them develop further, including Employability Support, National Citizen Service and volunteering.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “I want every child to be given the best start in life but sadly they are not.

“We know that grassroots projects like the YOLO project can help turn around the lives of those on the cusp of crime, which in turn helps keep our communities safe.

“I’ve heard some real success stories here today – a credit to all involved – and I’m determined to build on this work in the coming months.

“With the right prevention work and early interventions in place we can change thinking, attitudes and behaviours – before it’s too late.”

Superintendent Barrie Joisce from Northumbria Police, is heavily involved in the YOLO Project.

He said: “As police officers it’s our job to tackle crime but that doesn’t always mean pursuing offenders, it means looking at how we can prevent crime from happening in the first place.

“Our role within this scheme is to work with our partners and help mentor these young people to challenge their perceptions of police and the authorities, set new boundaries and encourage them into education.

“We have been really pleased with the progress being made and look forward to continuing our work with this programme.”

Earlier this year, the Police and Crime Commissioner visited a Premier League Kicks session at The Parks, in North Tyneside, to join young footballers combining their time on the pitch with knife crime awareness workshops.

To keep up to date with Kim McGuinness, visit the Northumbria PCC website or follow her updates on Twitter.

For more information on Newcastle United Foundation’s Youth Violence Programmes
Email jacqueline.critchley@nufc.co.uk

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