Posted: 21 May 2020

Using sport and positive activities to disrupt exploitation

From our work with child criminal exploitation, we know that sports and other positive activities can help young people find focus, feel better and improve certain aspects of their lives.

Our new programme, Climb, will look at using these activities with 10-17 year olds who may be on the cusp of being forced into criminal activity. 

Painting and playing in potential hotspots

Climb, funded by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, is an early intervention and prevention  programme for 10-17 year olds. It was developed because of concerns over an increase in child exploitation in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire.

We want to disrupt the activities of people who are exploiting vulnerable children so we are working closely with local communities to provide sustainable positive activities for the young people who may be on the cusp of being coerced into criminal activity.

These include art, music, football, boxing, fishing, horse riding, self-defence, painting and decorating apprenticeships – and are particularly needed within identified hotspots where young people have little to do. The aim is to keep young people active and busy with these activities, especially during summer holidays.

The power of sport and positivity

We know that sport helps young people acquire the skills and mind-set required to empower them to make positive life choices. 

'When you’re physically active, your mind can be distracted from the negative issues affecting your life.' - practitioner

Physical activity triggers endorphins that can make you feel happier and more relaxed, and your skills increase, your self-esteem and confidence can improve as well. This can lead to increased motivation and aspiration within other areas of your life.

Adapting in lockdown

We work with young people who do not have involvement from statutory services and give young people a voice so they can shape how we work with them.

In these unusual times, where social distancing is proving to be a challenge, we hope to provide some creative ways of working – using WhatsApp (age appropriate), FaceTime, text or phone calling to stay in touch with young people. 

West Mercia is largely a rural area so looking at provision in local communities is vital during coronavirus. Working with local communities, we are helping young people access safe spaces and green areas which can help with emotional and physical well-being.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CLIMB

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