Newcastle United Foundation and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness are celebrating a major milestone as part of an ongoing project to protect, educate and inspire young people to live a life away from crime.
Since 2019, the official charity arm of Newcastle United has worked closely with the PCC’s Violence Reduction Unit to provide interventions and support for children and teenagers aged eight to 14 who are on the fringes of criminal or anti-social activity.
Now, two years on from launching the YOLO project, the Foundation has successfully provided direct mentorship support and positive interventions for 103 young people in the past year through more than 500 hours of face-to-face delivery during the pandemic.
Delivered by a dedicated team of Foundation staff, YOLO offers one-to-one support in schools and community settings, with sessions educating youngsters about drug and alcohol abuse, laws and consequences, county lines operations and targeted interventions to suit each individual.
To mark the two-year anniversary since YOLO began, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness met with participants and staff at a Newcastle United Foundation Premier League Kicks session to see the initiative in action.
Kicks, also delivered by the Foundation, provides free weekly football for children and teenagers from Berwick to Gateshead and is an informal way to engage young people who could or have benefitted from YOLO intervention.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I know the Foundation really well and they totally get it – if we are truly going to fight crime, we need to get ahead of it, and prevent it from happening in the first place.
“Making sure young people have access to positive activities, role models and support is vital – and this is what YOLO is all about.”
She continued: “My Violence Reduction Unit has worked with the project right from the beginning – it’s a key project for us as it gets kids on the right track and steers them away from trouble.
“Grassroots projects like this can, and do, make a real difference to young lives and it’s so important that we reach young people before it’s too late.”
Through face-to-face interaction, activity packs and physical activity, an amazing 87 per cent of participants exiting the YOLO programme report felling more confident, able to set and achieve goals and are feeling more optimistic about their future.
Jacqueline Critchley, Newcastle United Foundation Youth Violence Project Coordinator, said: “It has been a pleasure to welcome Kim to our Redheugh Kicks session and to introduce her to some of our incredible participants who we work closely with week-in and week-out.
“It’s been particularly challenging for children and teenagers during the last year and we’ve been in constant contact with each individual to ensure they are supported to engage with schoolwork, spend time with family and friends and stay active.
“Our YOLO sessions are really there to target and address the needs of each young person and to equip them with the skills and confidence in themselves to move away from a lifestyle that will hurt and negatively affect them, their loved ones and the general public.
“Alongside the PCC and Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, we truly believe that we can improve lives to prevent crime in the future and there is no better time to do this than at the start of life.”
For more information on the YOLO project, please visit nufoundation.org.uk or alternatively visit the PCC’s Violence Reduction Unit website here.