Thursday, 20 November 2008


I read an article in the Sentinel last night, whereby a successful Pioneering Scheme, which helps to steer young people away from a life of crime, will close down next year, due to lack of funding. This saddens me. How can we lose such a Scheme, that has brought so much success?

Two Youth Inclusion Projects (YIP's), in Stoke on Trent will stop operating from March 2009. It would seem that they have attempted to gain funding, but have been unsuccessful. The Schemes are held in Stanfields and Meir, where they target 8-17 year olds, who are thought to be at risk of offending, truancy or social exclusion. Youngsters take part in various organised activities, including sport, art and fund raising. They complete workshops about drugs, and sexual health. If they stay out of trouble, they are taken on excursions.

The project is run by a crime reduction charity (NACRO), and police, schools and community groups, say the project has dramatically reduced anti social behaviour in the area. Sadly, without an investment of £260,000, a year, they will have to close. There are currently 58 young people involved with the Stanfields project, and 59 at Meir.

John Tate, Director of Stoke on Trent's Youth Offending Service said "the projects have had a big impact. Apart from getting support to young people that need it, and to their parents, we have also engaged with the local communities". He said the programme had resulted in a 30% reduction in youth crime and anti social behaviour.

The Stanfield Scheme started in 2001, under a three year grant from the Youth Justice Board, and continued with funding from various sources. The programme expanded to Meir, in 2005.From April 1st of this year, changes in the funding process, meant no more cash was available for these projects. Grant Applications to the Big Lottery Fund and Coalfields Regeneration have been unsuccessful, because the YIP's do not meet the criteria.

Inspector Mark Hardern, Commander of Tunstall Neighbourhood Policing Unit, said "There used to be serious issues around crime and anti social behaviour in this area, but I have seen a massive improvement. I would not like to see it close, as it does a lot for the kids involved and the community."

Michael Coleman, Councillor for Weston and Meir North said "The work done by the project is invaluable, and the thought that we could lose it fills me with dread. I know what the estate can become without that kind of intervention".

What a travesty this is. Two successful schemes, that have proven to reduce crime and anti social behaviour, now to be lost. These young people have been prepared to do something, to get involved, to change themselves, to involve themselves with the community. Full credit to them all, and to those who are involved in running the Schemes.

This is what we need, Schemes like this, to give the youngsters the help they may need. Sometimes it is easier to do all the wrong things, but they don't know how to get away from it. What does it come down to, Funding, or lack of. It is so wrong, that these sort of Schemes should be lost. What do you think?


Martin Garner said...

I have some personal knowledge of the youth inclusion project at Stanfields.

Whilst the project has no doubt had success at helping keep young people out of trouble by providing diversionary activities, I'm doubtful as to whether it has achieved it's objective of changing long term behaviour.

Still, having the project for the last 7 years has been much better than not having it and the police might find themselves busier when it comes to an end.

nita said...

Martin. Yes, I can see your point, whether the scheme has achieved it's objective, in changing long term behaviour. I just think it's a refreshing change, to hear that these youngsters have actually been willing to get involved.

It has reduced crime and anti social behaviour, so that is definitely a positive, it must be a concern, as you say, for the police, once this scheme comes to an end.

As I've said, it's such a shame that the funding cannot be found.

Martin Garner said...

Thats my worry Nita, what may happen when the youth inclusion project ends.

One one level it has of course been a great success, but if levels of crime and anti-social behaviour shoot up when the project ends then ultimately it may have been a failure for not being able to change the long term behaviour of young people.

Adam Colclough said...

Which costs more, providing something constructive for young people to do or paying to deal with the anti-social behaviour that results from them having nothing to do apart from get into trouble?

Do the math, as the saying goes.

Hopefully enough people in the Stanfields area will complain about its withdrawal to get the project reinstated.

nita said...

I can see the point that Martin is trying to make. If these young people have been on the scheme, the end result should be, that when it comes to an end, they should no longer want to go out and commit a crime or cause anti social behaviour.

Adam. Yes I agree, it is always better to provide them with something to do, to keep them off the streets. Sadly, the money isn't available to continue with the project.

nicky said...

Nita this is an interesting topic.
This is the sort of scheme I might be a bit sceptical of and Martin I share your concerns about possibly not changing long term behaviour. But if it has been tried and proven to improve the community, there is a lot to be said for it. If it did change long term behaviour it would be worthwhile for sure. But even if it doesn't, if it does divert from crime, then your point Adam becomes very relevant. It might just pay to operate it. But then, if it is financially viable, why does it fail to get funded? Is there any good reason for this or is it just yet another case of a world gone mad?