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A Sporting Chance launch event

A Sporting Chance launches in the Ashford borough

Published: 15/09/2021

Last night, Tuesday 14 September, saw the launch of an exciting new project which aims to use the power of sport and physical activity to create safer, stronger and more respectful communities by engaging with young people in some of our most high-need areas.

Ashford Borough Council joined forces with Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) on the year-long project to run a range of activities including a 1 to 1 mentoring programme, working with a number of young people per week for targeted intervention around crime. There will be weekly ball court/estate sessions, three crime reduction workshops, three ten-week peer enrichment programmes plus a residential trip for 30 young people to attend.

As well as this the ‘Joy of Movement’ programme within schools will encourage children to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle, combatting childhood obesity, where they will learn about the body and nutrition and take part in practical sessions.

The project aims to create safer, stronger, and more respectful communities through engaging young people in positive activities within the immediate communities that they live in. In addition, the 1 to 1 mentoring sessions can reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in serious youth violence and gang related crime.

Weekly ball court/estate sessions

CACT staff who deliver these sessions become recognisable positive role models within these communities who are also able to ensure safe and controlled environments for the sessions, lowering barriers to participation and anxiety in young people and their parent/carers. A major strength of this model is that it can be targeted and moved to various venues and specific areas of need.

1 to 1 mentoring programme

Support will be offered to young people who are struggling to engage in education or clashing with figures of authority such as teachers. Some young people may have difficulties within their home environments which could be contributing to them displaying challenging and negative behaviours.

CACT staff also work at a higher level by providing a more targeted mentoring programme that supports and challenges young people who have been identified of being at risk of becoming involved in serious youth violence (perpetrator or victim) and or are showing signs of being drawn into risky behaviours such as gang affiliation or county lines involvement.

Our mentors work closely with the young person regardless of what stage they are at and provide support with a view to setting positive goals and future aspirations which they are further supported to achieve.

Group/peer enrichment and residential activity project

CACT mentors lead the programme introducing young people to new experiences, challenging them to work positively as a team under their supervision and guidance. Delivered away from their local communities and any potential negative influences, and by introducing and providing new and unique and exciting activities the project aims to inspire young people to make positive and beneficial decisions moving forward in their lives.

Young people are referred onto the programme by social workers, youth offending teams, youth service staff and other agencies such as schools and police. One residential trip is also delivered with places offered to those who have shown positive attendance within their programme of activity.

CACT Crime reduction workshops

These are delivered in a number of settings by CACT staff, strategic partners with specific areas of interest and people with lived experience – including a former gang member convicted of running a large county lines operation, who is now employed by CACT as a full-time mentor. 

Cllr Peter Feacey, portfolio holder for Community Safety and wellbeing said: “This comprehensive project will offer support and mentoring to those young people within our borough who are struggling to engage and who are at risk of becoming involved in violence and crime.

“The range of targeted activities aims to empower them to set positive goals and aspirations for their future, which they are then supported to achieve.

“I am very proud to support this important project which will inspire our young people to forge a healthier and happier future.”

 

Image from left to right:

Carl Krauhaus (Charlton Athletic Community Trust), Michael Ward (Charlton Athletic Community Trust), Alison Oates (Ashford Borough Council), Cllr Peter Feacey, David James (Charlton Athletic Community Trust), Chief Inspector Nick Sparkes (District Commander), Inspector Simon Johnson (CSU Inspector), Simon Harris (Ashford Borough Council, Jay Adams (Charlton Athletic Community Trust)