NYAS Cymru, is set to launch a pioneering advocacy project aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour, raising aspirations and improving engagement between local police and young people in Blaenau Gwent.

The pilot ‘Dyheu’ (Aspire) project has been awarded a grant from the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Police Community Fund, which aims to enable children and young people in Gwent to be safe, healthy and happy and to help build positive relationships between children, young people and the police based on mutual respect.

NYAS Cymru is currently commissioned to deliver one-to-one, issue-based, independent advocacy support for children and young people in Blaenau Gwent. Through this work, the charity has identified a need to offer a further intensive advocacy service, delivered on a wrap-around basis,  for children and young people who are at risk of entering the criminal justice system or becoming victims of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Overall, the initiative will focus on ensuring four key outcomes :

•             Diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour

•             Ensuring young people engage with community-based services

•             Ensuring young  people feel listened to and included

•             Enabling local services to become more responsive to the needs of

young people

Young people will be referred by the police, schools, pupil referral units and the Blaenau Gwent Detached Youth Team. As well as providing intensive one-to-one advocacy support, NYAS Cymru will establish the project to help break down barriers to engagement with services including education and youth and community-based organisations.  Advocates will focus on raising awareness amongst young people of the effects of crime and anti-social behaviour on the local community and the consequences of getting involved in crime.

A central part of the project will be the establishment of a collective advocacy group led by young people that will provide a platform for engagement with the local police and other service providers. The group will enable young people to talk about their lives, express their views, articulate their wishes and feelings and influence how crime and anti-social behaviour is tackled in their area.

Emma Phipps-Magill, Operations Manager, NYAS Cymru said, “According to a report by Civitas (Institute for the Study of Civil Society), approximately 70,000 school-aged children enter the youth justice system each year and nearly half of first-time offenders are young adults. It’s imperative that  organisations like NYAS Cymru help to address this issue through intervention and prevention.

NYAS Cymru is particularly concerned about the number of care-experienced young people who are at risk of exposure within the youth justice system. Through this funding we will explore a rights-based approach for tackling crime and engaging young people and our key partners to address this issue. We are delighted to be working with the Gwent Police Crime Commissioner and youth service to undertake this project.”

Jeff Cuthbert, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, added, “All too often, young people from our most disadvantaged communities feel they have no other option than to enter a life of criminality. This project will work with young people, most at risk of entering the criminal justice system, to find an alternative path. It is with support, from projects like NYAS, that young people can be supported to divert their energies into other, more positive activities, enabling them to go on to be responsible citizens in the future.”

NYAS Cymru will deliver the 12-month pilot in Blaenau Gwent with the aim of measuring its impact and success to inform its future work.