Crime commissioner’s fund helps charities to inspire young people

EIGHT charities have been given a share of more than £22,000 from Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson’s fund with the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

The fund comes from the sale of recovered stolen goods that have been unclaimed and seeks to support causes that tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol related crimes and youth crime.

Doorway in Chippenham has been given £3,000 towards funding two support workers who spend time with guests at the drop-in sessions held at the charity’s base at the Salvation Army hall in Foghamshire.

Doorway trustee Helen Dewar said: “Up to nine of our guests are sleeping rough on any night. Welfare reforms have increased pressure on vulnerable people, and cuts to money for local government and charities such as CAB mean there are fewer places to turn for help. Our experience has been that people coming to us have more complex issues now than previously.
Doorway has worked with homeless and vulnerable adults in Wiltshire for 14 years, and our statistics show a continuing need for our service.”

She said the paid staff’s work is vital to the safe running of the drop-in sessions. “Much of the practical front-line work of the drop-in is performed by volunteers who cook and serve food and drinks, prepare food parcels, operate a laundry service and offer befriending and social activities,” she said. “However, the presence of professional trained staff is essential to the safe running of the sessions, and much of the more specialised one-to-one support we offer requires their input.”

The Royal Wootton Bassett Sea Cadets have been given £3,000 for new equipment storage and to build a quiet classroom at their boat shed for cadets who need time away from the noise and distraction of busy group sessions to learn.

The classroom will support the group’s move to reach more young people and address anti-social behaviour in the town.

Leader Denise Channing said: “Our aim is not simply to provide them with a safe space where they can get together (in the style of a youth club), rather it is to enable provision of a structured environment that’s about learning and improving themselves. We help to launch resilient teenagers who can cope with the world as it is today and are able to take advantage of professional opportunities.”

Wiltshire Youth for Christ has also been given £3,000 and will use it to fund a youth worker and a pop-up youth café that visits Devizes and west Wiltshire. The café has had successful visits to The Green in Devizes in school holidays.

Youth worker Steve Dewar said: “We believe in a holistic approach to youth work. We want to engage, inspire and equip young people to make positive choices that affect their

personal, social, educational and spiritual development. We believe it is crucial to enable them to develop their voice, influence and place in society to reach their full potential.”

The Platform Project in Swindon has been given £3,000 towards renting premises to develop a social enterprise zone, where young people can design and create items for sale, such as mugs, t-shirts and artwork.

Leader Sadie Sharp said: “The 'real' youth enterprise activities that we have run have been described as a 'work haven' or a 'training workplace' by our participants, where they say they are able to build their skills and confidence in a safe and supported environment. Their participation equates to the same kind of experience they would have on work experience, thus builds up their CV, but does so on a much deeper level, as they are actually doing the kind of jobs that they would only get the opportunity to watch other people do on work experience placements.”

Prime Theatre in Swindon will use its £3,000 funding to make a new film and educational materials to spread the message of the dangers of exploitation from ‘county lines’ drug dealers when the group visits secondary schools. “We have planned this project using data provided by the Police on the last year of activities related to drugs and knife offences conducted by children/young people aged 11-18,” said trustee Mark Powell.

“We know of primary school children involved in drugs and weapons and of secondary school children working within these networks. We have evidence of children paying off debts incurred within these networks through sexual activity. We know of older children being given custodial sentences which mean that young children are back-filling demand, only to be part of turf wars when older children are released.”

Inner Flame in Swindon will use its £2,800 grant to run a 12-week Prince’s Trust personal development course for unemployed young people aged 16 to 24. Director David Weatherall said: “We aim to have an impact on our students that helps them to see the advantages of leading a positive, crime-free life. As such we see over 80 per cent of young people that we work with going on to further education or employment.”

The Open Door Centre in Swindon, which provides a daily drop-in for people with learning disabilities, has been given £3,000 towards the cost of their activity co-ordinators to inspire and motivate its members.

Trustee Liz Redvers-Weston said the activity co-ordinators play a vital role in helping members get the best out of their lives. “Between them, they devise and deliver a wide-ranging activities programme based on the needs and wishes of members. Activities include basic skills learning, development of work-readiness skills, physical and mental health activities, development of social skills and interaction with others and confidence building and accessing wider community facilities and venues,” she said.

Salisbury Museum has been given £1,700 to support a youth offending team engaging with young people at risk of exploitation in Tidworth with a photography project in partnership with two local photographers.

Each project will be supported and monitored by Wiltshire Community Foundation’s grants team, who assessed all the applications.

Mr Macpherson said he is delighted with the wide range of projects the fund is helping. He said: "Every applicant we consider through these grants is worthwhile and working with the Wiltshire Community Foundation we go through the agonising task of having to select the ones from a long list for the year - sadly, not everyone can receive funding. 

"The money will go to some very worthwhile causes which will make a difference to the lives of some living here. 
"I am pleased to say that this year's recipients are evenly split between Swindon and Wiltshire - ensuring an even spread of money across the county." 

Pictured: Angus Macpherson with Steve Dewar at Wiltshire Youth fior Christ's pop up cafe