A NEW scheme has brought the North East’s biggest soccer rivals together ... to help youth groups.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has granted £20,000 to the initiative, from her Community Safety Fund, which aims to kick anti-social behaviour (ASB) into touch.
The project will see young people from both Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United’s foundations come together to tackle youth crime and ASB.
Both clubs described the funding as “fantastic” and something which would help to benefit communities across the region.
Youngsters from both clubs’ ‘Kicks’ projects working together during workshops and other activities, aimed at exploring disorder and bad behaviour and the rivalries between the two clubs.
The activities will include visits to both the Stadium of Light and St James’ Park and a series of classroom based activities.
Those taking part will also be playing in showcase matches and taking part in a series of play day events.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “We know people in the North East are passionate about their football and this starts at an early age.
“This valuable project gives youngsters the opportunity to meet others who may support a different local team.
“Through workshops and activities they will explore and discuss anti-social behaviour - what it is, the impact is has on them, their families and their communities and the consequences of violent or anti-social behaviour.
“Using football to get this message across means they are in an environment that is interesting and more comfortable for them - it will hopefully mean they engage better and learn more.
“My office has met with the staff running the project from both clubs and it’s clear the project works and is helping to change young people’s lives, so I was more than happy to offer my backing and support.”
Ev Ripley-Day, head of raising standards at the Foundation of Light, said: “We’ve had great success with a number of our Kicks projects reducing youth anti-social behaviour by up to 80 per cent in the communities in which they run, as well as giving young people access to experiences and workshops that have raised their aspirations and broadened their horizons.
“We’re very excited to be working with the Newcastle United Foundation and hope that it has a positive impact on young people from both groups.”