POLICE have joined forces with the Black Cats charity to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is backing a Foundation of Light campaign, Kicks, which brings young people from both Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United’s foundations together to tackle youth crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB).
The Commissioner has given funding of just under £20,000 to the project as part of the Community Safety Fund and both clubs say it is fantastic news which will benefit the region.
Youngsters from both clubs’ Kicks projects will work together and take part in a series of classroom based activities and workshops.
Throughout the project they will be discussing youth crime, disorder and ASB focusing on football related rivalries between the two teams.
Activities include visits to the Stadium of Light and St James’ Park with the opportunity to play in showcase matches, take part in a series of play days and other educational events.
Mrs 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: “This is an exciting and innovative project for the participants to get involved with. We’ve had great success with a number of our ‘Kicks’ projects reducing ASB by up to 80 per cent in the communities in which they run.”