Violence Reduction Partnership invests nearly £500,000 to give young people better opportunities

Three young people in karate uniform, one holding a certificate

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today announced nearly half a million pounds is being invested through the region’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) to build brighter futures for young people across the region.

The Sports, Arts and Culture Fund has been set up to offer greater opportunities for thousands of young people, helping them to gain valuable skills, build their confidence and make positive decisions for the future.

After inviting bids for the fund last year, the Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, has today confirmed the 20 brilliant grassroots projects which have been awarded a share of the £485,000 VRP pot to deliver projects focused on engaging and supporting young people, particularly in areas where youth activities have been cut in recent years.

From qualifications in mental health awareness and first aid to digital skills and theatre productions, street arts sessions and sports camps, nearly 8,500 young people from across the region are set to benefit from the new fund.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Engaging our young people and giving them the chance to try new experiences, gain skills and qualifications and get involved with great, fun activities is so important if we are to help them reach their full potential and prevent them getting involved in activities which could be harmful to themselves or others, or even become criminal.

“Sadly, we know opportunities for young people have significantly decreased in recent years due to the devastating impact of austerity and the desperate underfunding of our councils and youth services.

“Our Sports, Arts and Culture Fund is entirely focused on reversing that trend. By investing in our young people, our goal is to give thousands of youngsters the chance to access brilliant activities, projects and training opportunities that will enable them to use their time positively and make better choices for the future.

“From Young Mentor training schemes to sporting sessions, arts and drama classes, photography and dance workshops, these 20 projects have all been chosen because they will support and inspire our young people to achieve more, and I’m really excited to see the results over the coming months.”

Among the recipients is Autism Adventure Training, who have been awarded £17,000 of funding to deliver sporting classes for young people with autism and other neurodiverse conditions, including what are believed to be the first karate classes in the region which enable the young people to be graded.

Julie Simpson, who founded Autism Adventures Training after finding there were few activities for children like her son Joe, said: “We started with football and then boxing and swimming and were helped by local groups who came into our previous location in Halewood. We have some fantastic instructors, but they have to be paid, as does the rent.

“This funding has allowed us to take the next step in paying for uniforms and for grading. We have a star of the day award, and you can see what it means to the young people. No one else believed it was possible to grade those with autism, but we have achieved that.” 

The weekly classes which enable participants to progress through their white, amber, and orange belts, are delivered by Chris Cray from Malvern Shotokan Karate, who added: “They learn self-discipline and concentration, but it is the grading that shows them – and others – that they are on a journey and can progress.”

Two of the young people who have attended the organisation’s football classes have now joined Everton in the Community’s PAN disability team.

Among the other successful organisations are Tranmere Rovers in the Community (TRIC) who are using £50,000 to transform a run-down community space, the Beechwood Recreation Centre, in an amazing facility for local young people boasting a chill-out room and sports equipment, while hosting weekly football sessions.

Danny*, 14, is just one young people who is already taking advantage of the centre’s pool and table tennis tables and gaming area. He said: “I live five minutes away and there wasn’t much going on here before” he said, “I love coming here now.”

Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Director for the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “Accessibility to positive activities is absolutely vital in supporting young people to improve their physical and mental health, building skills such as communications, team-building and self-confidence, and providing alternative opportunities.

“We are really proud of the vast breadth of choice that has been made available through the funding for young people, including drama classes and media projects as well as the ever-popular football and martial arts.”

Successful organisations

The successful organisations include:

  • Alt Valley Community Trust (Croxteth)
  • Apollo Sports Club CIC (Halewood)
  • Autism Adventures Training (Speke)
  • Behind Bars (Birkenhead, Bidston and St James)
  • Brunswick Youth and Community (Linacre)
  • Centre 63 (Whitefield, Cherryfield, Shevington and Northwood)
  • Community Capacity Builders (Leasowe, Moreton, Seacombe, Bidston)
  • Evolving Mindset CIC (Prescot Town Centre)
  • Future Yards CIC (Birkenhead and Tranmere)
  • Maximum Edge (St Helens town centre and Parr)
  • Methodist Centre (Princes Park)
  • Netherton Park Community Association (Netherton)
  • People Empowered CIC (St Helens town centre, Parr and Prescot)
  • Rotunda Inclusive (Kirkdale)
  • Saints Community Development Foundation (St Helens)
  • Torus Foundation (Princes Park)
  • Tranmere Rovers in the Community - TRIC (Bidston and St James)
  • Utopia Project (Birkenhead, Tranmere, Bidston and St James)
  • Venus (Linacre)
  • Women’s Enterprising Breakthrough - WEB (Birkenhead)

About Merseyside's VRP

In total, 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) have been established across England and Wales to help deliver the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife and gun crime and homicide.

Police and Crime Commissioners lead on commissioning these multi-agency units in their areas, bringing together strategic partners to deliver system-wide interventions to prevent and reduce crime.

In Merseyside, we renamed our unit to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) because we believe the word ‘partnership’ reflects the way we work and approach this challenge.

The VRP brings together Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, local government, National Probation Service and the county’s Youth Offending Service, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners.

Visit the Merseyside VRP website