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NEARLY 100 groups including those helping vulnerable young people, domestic abuse victims and community projects throughout Northumbria have today been awarded a much-needed funding boost thanks to an emergency grant scheme set up by Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.

The Coronavirus Response Fund was launched last month as a redesign of the Commissioner’s annual community fund and brought forward £200,000 of funding to help local charity organisations continue their vital work following the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Inundated with applications from across the region, the Commissioner sourced an extra £100,000 in funding from reserves and underspend, bringing the total funding pot to more than £300,000.

A total of 186 applications were received from a range of services all seeking new ways to work at distance and continue supporting families and helping prevent crime.

Many project ideas have been about looking after vulnerable and isolated people, particularly in the region’s rural communities, including victims of domestic abuse.

Supporting our young people also stood out as a great need during this challenging time, so more than £110,000 has been dedicated to youth projects, helping young people facing the impacts of poverty while schools are shut.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “As Commissioner my role isn’t just about policing, it’s about ensuring support is there in our communities to help improve lives and prevent crime. It’s vital we come together at this time to overcome the challenges this virus has thrown our way.

“Although many community and voluntary groups have adapted their delivery amazingly well, and I’m very grateful of that, there’s no denying it’s a difficult time for them. Being able to help ease some of the financial pressure and help vital services to keep on doing what they’re doing or roll-out new innovative ideas – it’s what this fund is all about. We’ve also increased the funding as the response was so great – It’s not a huge amount but it all helps.”

The Commissioner went on to thank everyone who applied, saying: “Whether successful or not, the fact we were inundated by so many great causes highlights the great community spirit we have throughout the force area with so many people wanting to make a difference, so thank you.”

One of the successful bids was from the Young Women’s Outreach Project in Gateshead who are using the money to help provide access to technology and are delivering ‘well-being’ packs. Project Manager, Julie Scott, said: “We are delighted to have been given this grant from Kim and know it will benefit many vulnerable young women who have experienced abuse and perhaps feel their voices and anxieties are not being heard during the lockdown. Feedback from the support has already shown us how essential this service is. One young woman said she was about to self-harm but then a worker turned up with her care package and that alone stopped her from self-harming.”

Sunderland’s Youth Almighty Project has also been awarded funding, Project Manager Joanne Laverick, said: “We are over the moon. This money will help us equip disadvantaged young people with a range of tools and resources to ensure they stay safe, connected and look after themselves whilst in isolation.”

Trinity Youth Association in Northumberland was also successful with their bid. Youth Worker Debs Hickling-Walker, said: “Some LGBT young people in particular are incredibly isolated and when they lack the funds to maintain a phone they become at risk of exploitation very quickly. Being able to ensure that all of our young people can stay connected with us during this particularly stressful time could literally save a life.  I’m very grateful to the Police Commissioner for recognising the needs of young people at this time.”

A full list of successful applications can be found here. 83 groups are being directly supported with funds, some of which will use the funds to support further organisations.

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Kind-hearted Design and Technology staff at Harton Academy in South Shields have handed over 1000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local beneficiaries including Northumbria Police – a donation praised by Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.

While school children are busy studying at home, the Design and Technology workshop has been put to good use with staff working round the clock producing full-face visors to help keep frontline staff safe during the current health crisis.

The school’s busy production line has donated its first batch of protective equipment to care homes and hospices across the region and is calling on other healthworkers who are in need of protection to get in touch.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone from Harton Academy who has dedicated their time and of course their talents.

“It’s vital that our police are properly protected and wearing this equipment provides reassurance to those they come into contact with. This is an amazing initiative and we are incredibly grateful.”

Sir Ken Gibson, Executive Headteacher at Harton Academy, said: “We’ve all seen the headlines about PPE and how great the demand is. As a school, we are delighted to be able to do our bit for the community and help frontline workers in this way – it’s our way of saying thank you. It’s all part of the fight against Coronavirus and I’m proud incredibly proud of our Technology staff and some student helpers who have put their skills to great use.”

For further details please contact: [email protected]

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Phase 1 of the Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioners Violence Reduction Unit concludes at this months end, and phase 2 hopes to build on the hard work and positive change across the force area seen to date.

Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, launched her Violence Reduction Unit 6 months ago with the objective of ‘improving lives to prevent crime’, and results so far indicate a positive response to the Commissioners vision – a reduction in knife enabled serious violence since the previous year of 18%.

Despite the challenges currently facing the charity and voluntary sector, the VRU continues to operate, ensuring suitable support is available to those who need it – both individuals and organisations.

Kim said: “We have obviously had to adapt to a new way of working during these challenging times, but we stand by our commitment to support the most vulnerable in any way that we can. The lockdown has caused a change in crime patterns and we are responding to this – we will continue to work with providers to ensure the support required is accessible to all.”

Since launching the unit, funding provided has enabled 32 organisations to directly impact over 3700 young people and adults through intervention work with the aim of improving lives to prevent crime.

The PCC pledged to support those most vulnerable and committed £930,000 to fund local services and organisations who would provide a range of intervention and outreach work across the Northumbria area.

Kim said: “When I set up my Violence Reduction Unit I outlined the need for organisations to come together to tackle the effects austerity has had on our society and our support networks, 6 months later and we are starting to see positive signs in response to our work.”

“Through the hard work of my office, Northumbria Police, and the organisations we are working with; thousands of young people have been educated through direct interventions in school and the community, we have developed our insight and understanding on this topic and we are in a stronger position now to expand our work and directly impact even more individuals.”

“Despite the situation we find ourselves in currently, we will build on these early successes and continue to improve lives to prevent crime as we have so far.”

Four key areas were identified that the Commissioner vowed to support; early intervention, youth diversion, mental health, and drugs, alcohol and homelessness. The response to tackling these issues has seen overwhelming support from the police, local authorities and other key partners – an approach which has delighted the PCC.

Kim said: “We know that we cannot solve this issue alone, we need people to come together and use our joined resources to provide a clear support pathway for those most vulnerable.”

“The support structure that was once there for young people is no more due to the cuts the public sector has seen over the years. We are looking to reverse the effects of this, but it is going to take time.”

All six local authorities have benefitted from the funding provided by the PCC, with a wide range of interventions on offer to their communities, including; school based awareness raising sessions, sport themed outreach work, drop in sessions for young people, early years support for families, and support for military veterans with housing and employment.

The Violence Reduction Unit will move into phase 2 post March 2020 following confirmation from the Home Office for another 12 months funding. To follow the work of the VRU, please visit https://facebook.com/northumbriavru.

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Rural charities and organisations struggling in the face of the Covid-19 crisis are being urged to consider a new Coronavirus Response Fund.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has brought forward and increased the annual community fund in a bid to help hundreds of organisations across the region who are facing an unprecedented challenge in how they support those in need.

Since then the Commissioner’s office has been inundated with applications for the £200,000 fund, and now the call has gone out for rural organisations to make their case.

Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “Things are really tough right now for so many and rural communities, for me, are a great concern. They can often feel isolated and out of help’s reach at the best of times. There are teachers worried about the gap in provisions for rural pupils, healthcare is often miles away and many rural areas have older, more vulnerable populations.

“There are some fantastic charities and services that do serve these communities – protecting the vulnerable and helping prevent crime. We cannot afford to lose them as they are a crucial lifeline to so many. They’re all playing an important part in the region’s response to the current crisis in some way and I want to make sure they know about this funding as it could help them out.”

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for the community and voluntary sector, Cath Homer, said: “Communities across Northumberland have really come together to support those most in need at this difficult time.

“Many of the volunteer groups that have been set up are relying on the goodwill of others, which whilst admirable just isn’t sustainable, and they urgently need funding to help them continue to protect the most vulnerable. I’d urge them to apply as a matter of urgency.”

The Coronavirus Response Fund is seeking applications of up to £5,000 from a range of organisations such as those supporting the most vulnerable within our communities, including those at risk of domestic abuse. The fund will also look at ways to support young people at risk of abuse, neglect or the impacts of poverty now the stability and support of schools has been taken away.

The closing date for applications is April 9th and the Commissioner will open a second round of funding later in the year.

Further details about the fund, how projects can be important in supporting the work of Northumbria Police and how to apply are available on the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner’s Website: https://bit.ly/PCCCoronavirusFund

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