A new programme to help young people make positive life choices and avoid the dangers of getting involved in knife crime and other forms of violence is being rolled out to every secondary school in Coventry.
As part of its wide-ranging youth service offer, the Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) is leading on the Staying Safe programme, which will deliver day-long sessions in schools to support youngsters on the back of a heightened profile of such incidents.
The programme is being part-funded by the Home Office Knife Crime Community Fund as well as the from PYF’s own reserve funds.
Staying Safe brings together the foundation along with West Midlands Police, Coventry City Council, the Police and Crime Commissioners office and Street Doctors. It is part of wider approach, led by PYF, to tackle the issue.
It has been delivered to 14 schools and seen more than 167 participants so far, with over 90 per cent agreeing the sessions had helped them to better understand the consequences of violence.
In addition to these sessions, PYF continue to provide community sessions across the city, as well as leading on a professional training programme designed to support more than 100 social workers, Youth Offending Team Officers and police officers to increase their confidence in supporting young people with these challenges.
PYF has also led on the training and development of more than 100 local professionals to help them build a better understanding of gang-labelled offending.
Dean Kavanagh, chairman of Positive Youth Foundation, said: “The need for a co-ordinated, joined-up approach to tackling youth violence in Coventry is something partners and schools have been calling for.
“What we can’t afford to do is demonise and label a generation of young people and think that arrest and prosecution is the only answer to this. Young people are often the victims in this matter, which is complicated and relates to poverty, exploitation, a lack of opportunity and role models.
“It’s vital to get into schools and other places across the city and engage with our young people, to speak their language and bring about positive changes.
“As a social enterprise, we rely on the support of our funders and have to ensure we are spending the money in the right way to have the best outcome for the city and its young people – and we believe this programme is crucial for Coventry.”
He added: “We will have trained youth workers helping to deliver the sessions in schools and this part of our wider response to the issue. There are no easy answers and we have to be prepared to listen to and interact with young people to ensure the most positive outcomes.
“As we all know, this is not an issue unique to Coventry but it is one we have to work together as a city to tackle.”
Staying Safe will run into spring 2019, with each of the city’s 26 secondary schools taking part and a new mentor training programme is now underway.
PICTURE CAPTION: Front – Cherelle Harding (Progress coach, PYF) and Natalie Cox (Senior Stop and Search Youth Trainer for West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner). Back – Krishan Singh (PYF), Superintendent Phil Healy (West Midlands Police), Cllr Pat Seaman, Cllr Kevin Maton and Abu Miah (PYF).