SIX weeks of having to entertain kids and keep them out of trouble is piling pressure on families across the North-East, so Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness is stepping in with more than £150,000 worth of Operation Payback funded activities to help keep anti-social behaviour at bay.

Concerned that young people are bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis and that cash-strapped parents are struggling to buy food let alone pay for holiday fun, the police Commissioner has today announced 60 youth and community summer holiday projects have been given the go-ahead.

This means cash criminals have taken from communities in the Northumbria Police force area is being put back into projects and initiatives that make a difference to the places that need it most.

The Operation Payback fund is made up of money seized from criminal activity under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA), with some recovered funds also going to Northumbria Police to help them target more criminals.

The big cash announcement comes following a recent poll by the PCC’s office which found more than half (53%) of North-East residents are worried about the financial pressures on families this summer.

The successful funding bids all centre around fighting poverty and fighting crime. The chosen projects will support struggling families and help keep kids out of trouble during the holidays. Local groups and youth clubs are offering various solutions to help keep kids busy, from sports tournaments to pizza nights.

One example is the Beth Jacob Youth club in Gateshead, where Operation Payback is funding a 3-day activities programme, benefiting close to 900 children. Sessions will be split for different age groups with older children also attending a trip to Whitley Bay Ice Rink.

Meanwhile, thanks to Operation Payback, Sports for Youth CIC in Newcastle is now able to deliver a multi-sports activity camp during the summer holidays, targeted at vulnerable young people aged 13 to 18 years from low incomes families.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “School kids, particularly in deprived areas are crying out for fun activities to keep them busy in the holidays. Without things to do there are always some who end up getting in trouble. The solution is simple. The more we invest in young people and throw opportunities their way, the more they thrive and the less bother they cause. Everyone wins.

“Not everyone can afford days out at theme parks or to jet off somewhere sunny, particularly when they are battling through a Cost of Living crisis. I know several working parents who have no choice but to leave their teenagers to their own devices while they are taking on extra shifts just to keep the pennies coming in.

“Some of these Operation Payback projects and initiatives are fantastic community solutions and I’m excited we’re able to make them happen.  It all helps improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities and reduces the number of victims.

“I really believe these sorts of projects are a lifeline to many children, young people and their families. Half the people we surveyed were worried about getting through the summer months so I hope in some small way their kids, grandkids, students whatever will access some of these opportunities and enjoy a trouble-free summer.”

Detective Sergeant Steven Ross, of Northumbria Police’s Financial Investigation and Asset Recovery Unit, said: “We have already seen so many fantastic community projects and groups grow thanks to Operation Payback.

“By helping to fund supplies for youth groups, supporting community centre payments and using this money for the communities we serve is incredible – but the real credit goes to the amazing people who then use these resources and spaces to provide safe and supportive places for young people to thrive and grow.

“To be able to support organisations doing good work in communities with money funded from the proceeds of crime is fantastic- taking the money out of the hands of criminals and investing it back into the communities these crimes have impacted.”

CASE STUDY: MINDSTARS

Marisa May, Managing Director of Mindstars in North Shields, said: “Mindstars are delighted to have received funding from Operation Payback and the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Being based in one of the most deprived areas in the North East, we are aware of the links between poverty, poor mental health and crime.

“We believe by reaching children at a pivotal time in their lives, we can work at reducing the likelihood of these, enabling children to live more fulfilling lives and play a positive role in our community.

“Funding from Operation Payback will enable us to include more children in our Summer Camp for four weeks together with providing all children with more enriching and positive activities focused on empowering, supporting and creating a long-lasting impact.

 

Other community organisations across the police force area who are benefitting include: New Beginnings North (Sunderland), Bede’s Helping Hands Food Bank (South Tyneside), NE Surf Society (Northumberland), Creative Youth Opportunities CIC (Gateshead), West Denton JFC (Newcastle), Wallsend Rugby Youth (North Tyneside). A full list of beneficiaries can be Found HERE.

Operation Payback is also topped up with some of the money seized from criminal activity under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA), with some recovered funds also going to Northumbria Police to help them target more criminals.

Earlier this week the Commissioner also announced nearly £2 million worth of investment to make public spaces safer had been secured for the region.

ENDS