BFCCT kick-off online mentoring to curb youth crime

Blackpool FC Community Trust will be launching a new online mentoring and education programme to prevent vulnerable young people being drawn into violent crime.

The move online will help the Trust continue its support of vulnerable young people while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place. The online adaption of the Trust’s Tower Above crime prevention programme has been made possible after securing a £41,000 grant from the Youth Endowment Fund.

Jason White, Head of Community Programmes, said: “Social distancing measures have meant we’ve had to put much of our face-to-face work with young people on-hold and look for alternative ways of supporting them. This funding will help us to strengthen and build our online mentoring and ensure young people can still access our help even if it’s difficult to physically meet.”

Young people between the ages of 10 and 16-years old who are involved or on the periphery of violent crime and anti-social behaviour will be referred to the programme from local schools, Blackpool’s Youth Offending Team and Blackpool Families in Need.

They will be assigned an adult mentor and participate in weekly one-to-one online mentoring and education sessions. During these sessions they will develop a personal development plan and be encouraged to open-up about their lives and behaviour. e-Gaming will be used to engage young people and facilitate open discussions. As social distancing measures are eased, participants will also get the opportunity to take part in various sport and physical activities to build relationships, reinforce good behaviour and divert them away from negative influences.

Talking to a youth worker from Blackpool FC Community Trust, Macy (aged 12) commented: “You wake up every day and you realise that you have nothing to do.”

This sentiment was echoed by a participant (aged 11) on the Trust’s Tower Above programme, who said: “I found lockdown really annoying because I couldn’t go anywhere with anyone, so lockdown made me feel extremely isolated.”

Blackpool FC Community Trust is one of 130 organisations to share part of the Youth Endowment Fund’s £6.5m COVID-19 grant fund.  The independent charitable trust was set up in 2019 by the Home Office to fund and evaluate projects in England and Wales which work to prevent children and young people from drawn into violent crime.

Jon Yates, Executive Director at Youth Endowment Fund, said: “The last few months has taken its toll on those young people who normally rely on support from youth workers or teachers. As life slowly gets back to normal, we need to ensure those who are vulnerable and need this support, are able to get it.

He adds: “I’m delighted our funding will help Blackpool FC Community Trust expand its work in the community.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Sue Clarke, Head of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network (LVRN), said: “I have no doubt whatsoever that this money will be used to maximum effect to directly benefit the lives of young people in Blackpool. The recent needs assessment that the LVRN completed demonstrated the absolute need for this work and the collective response from this partnership I am certain will yield positive changes for the vulnerable young people involved with this project.”