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First seven projects unveiled for funding to stop youngsters going into gangs

PUBLISHED: 16:01 16 March 2020

Successful projects for Seeds for Change funding in Ipswich. Picture: JADE FROUD

Successful projects for Seeds for Change funding in Ipswich. Picture: JADE FROUD

Ipswich Borough Council

The first projects funded by a new pot of cash aimed at directing youngsters away from crime and gangs have been unveiled.

Gary Staff's Jab Not Stab sessions are among those to receive funding from the Seeds for Change pot. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGary Staff's Jab Not Stab sessions are among those to receive funding from the Seeds for Change pot. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council launched the £140,000 Seeds for Change scheme last summer – a pot of cash which community projects could bid for to fund projects that have a positive impact on youngsters.

It was set up in the wake of the murder of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens in the summer of 2018, and on Monday the councils unveiled the first seven projects to receive funding, totalling £71,000.

Alasdair Ross, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for community protection, said: “We want to help get kids interested in these things, and distract them from crime.

“This project is about small groups getting involved to help.

County council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West, said it was part of the answer to helping youngsters away from gangs. Picture: RACHEL EDGECounty council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West, said it was part of the answer to helping youngsters away from gangs. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“We don’t want people talking Ipswich down – it’s a good town.”

The projects to receive funding are:

• Ipswich Kickboxing Academy – Jab Not Stab weekly training sessions that aim to focus people’s attention on sport and wellbeing

• New Beginnings – a self-esteem course for girls aged 11+ to get to the underlying causes of decisions that lead youngsters into crime, with plans for teenage boys to follow

Alasdair Ross, community protection protfolio holder at Ipswich Borough Council, said Seeds for Change was about making a positive differnece in the town. Picture: LUCY TAYLORAlasdair Ross, community protection protfolio holder at Ipswich Borough Council, said Seeds for Change was about making a positive differnece in the town. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

• African Caribbean Youth Creative Learning Experience – the Make a Connection project offers 5-12 year-olds motivational sessions for youngsters with African, Caribbean and dual heritage backgrounds

• Future Female Society – the Girls Where You At? scheme gives vulnerable girls skills in confidence and self-esteem

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• Positive Futures – youngsters in disadvantaged parts of Ipswich can access free activity sessions and a meal during school holidays

• BSC Multicultural Services – sports and citizenship sessions for minority groups in the town

• Suffolk New College – the Stepping Up sessions support students who have lower attendance and are on the fringes of exclusion

The borough council has put in £120,000 for the pot, with an additional £20,000 from the county council. Each project has its own timescales for implementation.

County council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West, said: “They all have different ideas and are giving kids something different to do.

“This is just a small part of the answer and there are lots of people doing stuff already so it’s an all-round community effort with everyone playing their part.”

Gary Staff, founder of Jab not Stab at Ipswich Kickboxing Academy, said: “When they come in it changes them – they get more respectful, more confident, it changes their wellbeing, they put their focus into that.

“The first course went so well we are getting calls from schools and sheltered housing to run sessions with them.”

Nick Stevens, head of foundation learning at Suffolk New College, said: “We have identified a cohort of 16-18 year-olds all in level one programmes that are at risk of being recruited for criminal behaviour.

“We are trying to develop their skills in confidence and resilience, and get them some mentors to help them achieve and improve their decisions.”

Denise Gibbons, from New Beginnings, said: “Self-esteem is a root cause of a lot of wider issues, and if someone feels good about themselves they see themselves positively and they make good decisions.”

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