Young people take to the water as summer of vital engagement projects gets underway

Two groups of young people are using rafted canoes to sail down the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Young people in Sefton are learning vital water skills with thousands more across Merseyside set to benefit from a summer of engagement activities thanks to the Police Commissioner’s Youth Diversion Fund.

Emily Spurrell visited the L20 Hub in Bootle this week to see first-hand the positive impact her Youth Diversion Fund is having, particularly for those from more deprived areas, offering better opportunities for young people during the six-week school holidays.

During the session, the young people used teamworking skills to build rafted canoes before taking to the water on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. They also took advantage of the family forest school running during the summer teaching foraging and other outdoor skills.

One of those enjoying the activities, Oliver Rowlands, 14, said: “If I wasn’t doing events like this then most of the time I’d just be sat around really.

“I feel like it’s helping me with how I speak to people and things like socialising and just getting out and helping with things fills me with a sense of goodness about myself because then I know that I can do things that I never thought I would.”

In total, 23 projects are sharing a total of £100,000 from the Commissioner’s Youth Diversion Fund, enabling more than 2,500 young people to benefit from having safe places to take part in positive activities during the six-week summer holidays, at a time when Merseyside Police often sees a spike in reports of crime and instances of anti-social behaviour.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “I believe that the best way to to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is to invest in our young people, providing them with better opportunities, helping them to develop skills and giving them access to things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

“It’s really nice to see how much they are enjoying it and hear how much of a difference my Youth Diversion Fund is making. I truly believe if we support our young people, if we educate them and if we give them those opportunities to show them that there is a better way to do things then we can deliver long lasting change and ultimately keep our communities safe.

“I’m really proud that my Youth Diversion Fund is one of the ways that we are doing that.”

Since its launch in autumn 2021, the Fund has allowed 17,363 young people to engage in activities across the school holidays, with 100 organisations benefitting from a share of more than £300,000.

Eloise Robinson, Chief Executive of L20 Hub said: “For us, this extra funding will help us to live out our dream, our mission and objectives for our charity by allowing us to employ additional staff so we can do more of what we originally set out to do.

“We want it to give people some flavour of what the L20 Hub is and exactly what we can do so that we can bring in more projects and services to allow us to engage with more people in our community.”

The Youth Diversion Fund is administered by the Community Foundation for Merseyside, (CFM) on behalf of the Commissioner. CFM holds funds from individuals and organisations as donors who wish to support deserving causes in Merseyside.