Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway invited partners from across the county to learn of the priorities of her £1.6m grant fund.
Kathryn Holloway explained that her focus for grants would be on early intervention for ten to 13-year-olds to divert them away from gang membership and knife carrying, including an emphasis on out of school activities, plus the rehabilitation of repeat offenders responsible for a rise in Domestic Abuse across Bedfordshire.
She said: “I need organisations to ask young people themselves what they would actually want to do outside school and make the range of activities wider than simply sports.
"I’ve been hugely impressed by one Bedford charity which has already consulted pupils in one middle school where more than forty languages are spoken, in an area which is a hotspot for gang grooming and recruitment, and which has had some answers they didn’t expect including children asking for Pilates and Yoga classes.
“We need everything from football teams to drama classes to cookery as well. This has to be provided countywide, which means several organisations getting together at locations across Bedfordshire and, realistically, the local authorities will also need to be involved as I haven’t got the funds to do this on my own.
“Where Domestic Abuse is concerned, we have to be honest, what organisations have been offering by way of providing services has created duplication in some areas and gaps in others but, even more importantly, it’s not working where repeat offenders are concerned and they’re the very ones who are responsible for the greatest rise in this crime.”
The PCC then handed over the stage to 26 partners for quick fire presentations to give them a platform to share their work and network.
Kathryn Holloway added: “We gave over the event to presenters showcasing projects such as the new Family Drug and Alcohol Courts which bring a parent with addiction together for regular meetings with a judge and a rehabilitation programme proven to have a 50 per cent better chance of getting them away from that addiction and keeping families together five years on to the creators of an app which monitors phone content in real time to warn children of its dangers to Reactive8 who work for me in Bedford Prison on both sides of the door around release to help change the mind-set of prisoners to Luton All Women’s Centre’s work around harmful practises such as Female Genital Mutilation in hard to reach communities.
“It was a whistle stop tour of the best work I am able to fund now and the opportunities to link this into other organisations who may not otherwise be aware of these ground breaking projects and the quite incredible partners who are delivering it."
The PCC stressed that, to qualify for her grants, she needed to see more than one organisation working together, that they must deliver services across the whole county for fair access and that more than one body needs to be involved in the funding to build in greater sustainability.
She also confirmed that she will not be spending the entire grant allocation of £1.6m but keeping back £300k for spending by whoever is PCC after the May 2020 election.
Almost all of her commissioned services for 2019 - 2020 were in attendance, along with other local organisations from Bedfordshire and some national and international bodies including supporters of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign ‘UNiTE by 2030’ which is designed to end violence against women and girls
The ‘Open Mic’ sessions at the event, where organisations showcased their work included PCC-funded organisations and visitors:
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, where judges and support workers work with parents to combat addiction and keep their children in care proceedings.
ACES, describing a booklet for schools and youth groups designed to mitigate the effects of adverse early childhood experiences.
Safetonet, with their mobile phone app to protect children from harmful content.
UNSEEN, the charity working to combat Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery.
Reactiv8, working with prisoners before and after release to help them to change their own views of themselves.
Direction for Bedfordshire, the PCC-funded service providing a website and support staff to assist prisoners on release.
Luton All Womens Centre, working with communities where harmful practises like FGM take place.
Bedfordshire Police Organised Crime Tactical Advisor, giving information to partners about known organised crime groups.
Anne Frank’s Trust, working in schools to combat hate crime.
Families First, working with both male and female victims of domestic abuse.
Counselling Foundation, offering one to one support.
FACES, supporting families in Bedford and devising out of school activities.
Wicketz, gang and crime diversion through cricket.
Mary Seacole, offering housing support to young people.
Revive Project, Somali community groups who are based at two locations in Luton who support young people and their parents with varying issues.
Neighbourhood Watch, helping police to keep neighbourhoods safe and pass on crime intelligence for action.
Bedford Open Door, counselling young people.
Att10tive, youth work and positive role modelling.
Kooth, XenZone is a provider of online mental health services for children, young people and adults.
Signpost Victim Support Hub, a service set up by the PCC to help all those requiring support following a crime.
Victoria Marlin from Signpost said: ‘The Signpost Hub provides free and confidential support to anyone affected by crime. We refer the residents of Bedfordshire to specialised services which are appropriate for them.
"The Hub has been up and running for well over 18 months now and we are currently conducting a review where we are seeking to ensure our service remains current and meets the needs of victims precisely.
"Continuous improvement has to be the only way ahead when designing services for victims and we need your feedback and involvement in referrals for that."
For more information about Signpost Victim Support Hub, visit: www.signpostforbedfordshire.com.
More information on applying to the PCC’s Grant Fund can be found at www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk, applications close on Friday, January 10.