Palace for Life Foundation, the official charity of Crystal Palace FC, has launched a targeted intervention programme aimed at reducing youth violence in south London.
Backed by the William Wates Memorial Trust, BBC Children in Need and the Premier League, Breaking the Cycle will use the power of Palace to provide unique opportunities for young people at risk of taking the wrong path in life.
Crystal Palace midfielder and Londoner Andros Townsend has backed the programme. He said: “It is a really good thing that the Foundation runs programmes like this to support youngsters who might fall into crime. I’m glad that as a club we are looking out for vulnerable people in the community.”
Within Croydon, violent offences are most likely to be committed by those aged 15 to 29 and those between 15 and 19 are most likely to commit knife crime offences. However, young people are now being identified as displaying risk factors for crime and youth violence as early as eight-years-old. Additionally, youth violence in Croydon disproportionately impacts on ethnic and racial minorities and is more likely to affect males.
Labour MP for Streatham, member of the Government's Serious Violence Taskforce, lifelong Palace fan and Patron of Palace for Life Foundation, Chuka Umunna, said:
"Palace for Life's "Breaking the Cycle" scheme, aimed at reducing youth violence through targeted intervention, could not be more timely or urgently needed in South London.
“As a Commissioner for the Youth Violence Commission, I know that face-to-face intervention is often critical in breaking our young people out of the cycle of violence and to go on to help others do the same.
“This is a great scheme, and one I am pleased that other football clubs in London and across the UK will also be participating in. We will only be able to help our young people and tackle this problem if we act as an entire community to end youth violence."
Breaking the Cycle will work on a referral basis with those aged 8-19 who are recommended for the programme by schools, the police and statutory agencies such as the Youth Offending Service. Participants will work with experts from a youth, sport and social care background, and will benefit from strong relationships the Foundation has with organisations and individuals right across south London.
The programme will offer one-to-one mentoring sessions as well as group work, with young people encouraged to set and achieve goals in order to improve their resilience.
George Henry, Senior Co-ordinator (Targeted Intervention) at Palace for Life Foundation will run Breaking the Cycle. He explained: “Through this programme we hope to tackle the risk factors that contribute to young people turning to crime. We will be working closely with them on a one-to-one basis in order to find positive solutions that work best for them.
“With the support of our partners at William Wates Memorial Trust, BBC Children in Need and the Premier League, we can hopefully start to make a real difference to young people who need more structured support in their lives.”
The mentoring and group work sessions will take place during or after school hours as well as during school holidays. Breaking the Cycle will take place mainly across Croydon, but will also work with the neighbouring boroughs such as Sutton and parts of Lambeth.
Croydon Council’s Director of Safety, Andy Opie, added: “Helping and supporting vulnerable young people is a key goal for the Safer Croydon Partnership. Knife crime is a London-wide concern, and this programme is a positive way to help young people to choose their futures.”
The programme will work with any young person who:
Is at risk of school failure through truancy/school refusal or exclusion
Participates in anti-social behaviour
Is known to mainstream/statutory services
Has previous exposure to violence both public and private
Has been caught with a knife/ weapon (must be their first offence)
Breaking the Cycle is part of a national pilot of ten Premier League clubs who are using the power of sport to address the issue of youth violence.
For more information on the programme or if you would like to make a referral for this programme please contact George Henry / 07808323031