Divert Youth is a violence reduction and custody intervention project for those aged 10 – 17 and offers help and guidance for those who are at risk of becoming involved in crime, as well as those who have found themselves in police custody.
Working in partnership with the Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, nine Community Club Organisations including AFC Fylde Community Foundation, the Divert Youth programme provides help to vulnerable young people who are responsive to behaviour change, and are supported by trained, trauma informed coaches. The programme is designed around the young person’s needs and not time restricted.
Dave Clarke, the Programme Manager for Divert Youth Lancashire, reflected on the positive impact that the Foundation has had within the Divert Project since it began in October 2021.
“AFC Fylde Community Foundation’s Divert team contribute to the delivery and development of the programme, promoting best practice and best outcomes for our young people.
“The partnership is crucial in terms of support which is relevant and appropriate to needs. The Foundation is a well-respected community asset and the attraction to young people of being associated with the club also has positive implications. The Foundation’s role within the project has made a significant difference to the community and the lives of the young people it’s supported.”
The Foundation recently organised a day trip to Kepplewray Activity Centre in the Lake District, for a number of participants who have taken part in the Divert project. The aim of the day was to provide the group with different opportunities and a chance to learn new skills, as well as building both their team-working abilities and independent skills such as resilience and initiative.
Scott Harries, the Foundation’s Divert Youth Co-ordinator, said, “Divert Youth plays a key role in the local community in helping steer young people back onto the right pathway to play a positive role in society. It enables the individuals to have an opportunity to make better life choices and positive changes to their life.
“We work alongside each participant to discover areas and aspects of their life which they would like support with and create a development plan based off their responses. We also hold group-based sessions within the local community, including schools, and work alongside partners within the local area to host workshops for young people.
“Some of these workshops have included visits to AFC Fylde, boxing clubs, gyms, and football development sessions. It is incredibly exciting that we are now hosting our first visit to Kepplewray Activity Centre, as the trip is a perfect way to showcase the fantastic work the participants have achieved since being involved in the programme!”
Since the project began, Scott has engaged with several individuals aged 10-17, and has supported them with various aspects of their life, from increasing school attendance and helping them to find new hobbies to prevent participants’ involvement in anti-social behaviour and improve their mental health.
Jack, who was referred to the project by the Early Intervention Team, chose to work with the Foundation due to his keen interest in sports, and has found a number of new hobbies since joining the project eight weeks ago.
Jack’s mum, Rebecca, has seen an incredibly positive impact on her son since he began attending the project. “Jack was hanging around with some older children who had been in trouble with the police. Whilst Jack was not in trouble himself, a PCSO talked to me about the behaviour of the group of kids he was with, and how it was getting more serious and problematic. They referred Jack to Divert Youth to help prevent him from following the negative path that some of his peers were going towards.
“Scott spends time with him at a regular session each week. This gives him one to one time to be himself, talk about his interests, and do some activities that he enjoys. It makes him feel listened to and valued and provides male role models which he doesn’t have anywhere else.
‘The project has really helped him. He is much more positive and happier, and he is starting to make good decisions when faced with challenges or moral choices to make. Jack doesn’t have any positive male role models in his life since his beloved Grandad passed away suddenly last year. The men involved with Divert Youth give such a good influence and show Jack that we can all have fun and mess about with our mates, but that there are boundaries to keep and respect for others to uphold. It’s a brilliant programme and hopefully its impact will be far reaching.”