But in Newport, and more recently Gwent (South East Wales), a
targeted project is reaping the rewards of changes in behaviour
among young people who are engaged through sport.
Positive Futures is a social inclusion
programme using Sport and Physical Activity as a tool to engage
young people at risk of anti-social behaviour or crime.
The programme started in Newport over 12 years ago, and in 2014
Positive Futures rolled out across the five local authorities in
Gwent with support from Sport Wales (through LAPA funding) and the
Office of the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner.
Newport LIVE Sports Development Team, and Newport City Council, have led the concept,
development, and coordination of Positive Futures and now work
closely with colleagues across Active Gwent; as well as a wide
range of partners including the Police, Community Safety,
Education, Social Services, Youth Services, Youth Offending
Services, Communities First, Families First, and third sector
Targeting predominantly young people aged between 10-19 who are
seen as at risk of crime or anti-social behaviour it provides:
- Positive alternatives to anti-social behaviour for young
people living in deprived communities across Newport and Gwent.
- Local sports provision at minimal or no cost for
- Voluntary and leadership opportunities.
- Qualifications and accreditations to young people.
- Role models and support packages for 'at risk' young
In Newport alone in the last year there were 22,640
participations - a 5,740 increase on the target.
Emily Kemp, Anti-Social Behaviour Officer at Newport City
"Positive Futures are a huge asset to Newport and it's forward
planning for the reduction of Anti-Social Behaviour. The Positive
Futures team engage with the most problematic persons within the
most deprived areas of Newport. Without their input the reductions
we have achieved would not have been possible. The information they
hold relating to some of the most deprived estates in Newport helps
us as partners to implement prevention tactics to stop anti-social
behaviour from escalating."
But it's not just the numbers that are impressive. The
individual personal stories of young people turning their life
around through sport shows its true power.
One young man, referred to Positive Futures in November 2014 by
the Families First Preventions team in Newport, was having varying
issues of violence and anti-social behaviour. He had been excluded
from comprehensive school and received a ban from playing rugby for
four months as a result of hitting one of his coaches. After
working with a sport mentor he is now attending a school in
Hereford, is back playing rugby with his club, and has long-term
goals to get into coaching.
Linzi Proctor is the Inclusion co-ordinator at St Julian's
"Positive Futures staff have always managed to develop excellent
working relationships with our most disengaged pupils. Through
accessing the programme, pupils have benefited from increased
self-esteem and self-confidence, a more positive attitude and have
been encouraged and motivated towards involvement in wider school
life. I would not hesitate to recommend this excellent programme to
other disengaged learners."
In Caerphilly town centre, the start of evening sports
engagement sessions between December 2014 and March 2015 has
coincided with a reduction in the local crime rate of 36%. There
has also been a 50% reduction in anti-social behaviour calls within
Stefan Williams, an Inspector at Gwent Police, commented:
"Positive Futures provides exactly what their name suggests.
Through the focussed work dealing with young people across Newport,
there is a clear feeling that when we get together, the future
problems always have some positive outcomes. This is because the
energy and initiatives are always about giving young people
opportunities, whilst solving issues to make Newport a better
"Positive Futures is a key partner assisting the Police in
finding different ways of reducing nuisance behaviour when dealing
Challenges the programme has faced
Consistent reporting, evidence based case studies highlighting
life changing experiences has ensured that funding has been
maintained. The Home Office ended the national programme in 2013
and directed funding locally to Police Crime Commissioners. It was
essential to illustrate to the Commissioner how important it was
for him to support this programme. The Gwent PCC has been very
supportive and has part funded the initiative since 2013.
A number of organisations have regularly received funding for
youth engagement programmes, and Positive Futures has had to work
to gain recognition and in some cases try to change a historical
culture of how best to engage with young people. Sport is
still not seen by everyone as a fantastic engagement tool for
impacting on big social agendas - so the evidence and feedback is
- Growing and sustaining a Positive Futures programme in Newport
since 2002 purely on external grant funds
- Developing a pan-Gwent approach since April 2014
- Thousands of young people engaged in sport
- Reduction in low level crime through diversionary and
- Young people case studies - literally changing lives
- Young people becoming volunteers
- Young people gaining employment