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500 young people take part in sports and positive activities in Bolton through Violence Reduction Unit’s community-led programme

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On Wednesday 18th October, the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester visited the Violence Reduction Unit’s (VRU’s) community-led programme in Bolton to hear about the positive impact it is having in preventing young people becoming involved in serious violence and other crimes.

The programme in Bolton works with young people aged between 10 and 25, and their families, to develop projects and activities to address the underlying causes of violence and build aspirations and opportunities.

Set up in May 2021, the programme delivers projects that engage and support young people and their parents/carers/families holistically, open access and targeted youth work for young people that provides safe spaces, consistent, free, high-quality sports provisions delivered locally, and mentoring programmes providing positive role models for young people and families at risk or vulnerable to youth violence and criminal exploitation.

A community-led approach to violence reduction, means the VRU works closely with communities to understand the strengths, challenges, and needs of the community and determine how local investments will be made. Several boroughs across the city-region have already received funding from the VRU as part of its £1.6 million investment in community-led programmes, outlined in Greater Manchester’s Serious Violence Action Plan. An additional £1 million investment in community-led programmes was announced in September 2023, to be split evenly between each borough.

A new community film which showcases an inspirational father and son from Bolton was also premiered at the visit. You can watch the film here:  (29) Bolton Community Spotlight: Simon’s Story – YouTube

Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice, and fire, said:

“The community-led programme in Bolton is well established and is creating real change for young people and families in Bolton.

“The alliance is strong, with each organisation delivering work that best suits their strengths and capabilities. The ability for organisations to cross refer means that the alliance ensures the most appropriate support for each young person and family they work with.

“The power of sport, outdoor activities, and mentoring in providing positive alternatives to violence should not be underestimated. Having local organisations deliver this work only strengthens the offer as they know their communities best.

“The additional funding we announced in September will enable this programme to continue creating positive outcomes.”

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Cllr Rabiya Jiva, said:

“I’m extremely proud of the community-based approach that we’re taking in Bolton to reduce youth violence.

“The additional funding has really helped to support young people who may be vulnerable to becoming involved in violent crime, and to intervening constructively at an early stage.

“Sport and other social activities are crucial in creating opportunities to try new things, build confidence, learn conflict resolution skills and to giving young people a healthy and safe future.”

Simon Green, Boxing Coach at New Bury Boxing Club and star of the Bolton community film, said:

“I am so pleased that we have had support to reopen a boxing club in New Bury as it is a huge benefit to the local community.

“I get satisfaction from teaching young people life skills and watching them develop. What sort of adults are we if we let young people grow up with nothing. We can teach them to be better people and projects like this one allow us to do that.”

In May 2021, several place-based organisations in Bolton were awarded funding from the VRU and formed an alliance. New Bury Boxing Club provides coaching to young people and healthy hot meals, many of the coaches at the club are local parents who have been trained through the programme funding. Elite Boxing support New Bury Boxing with training coaches and development. Bolton Wanders in the Community deliver community activities designed to create sustainable pathways to change lives. WAVE Adventure, offers outdoor activity, team building, leadership, mentoring and volunteer training opportunities to young people. The Great Lever and Farnworth Voice organise sessions for young people to teach them about different aspects of safety alongside engaging activity. 1Message offers mentoring services for young people who are at risk of or engaged in anti-social criminal activity.

The VRU’s community-led programmes are delivered with the support of 10GM – a joint venture to support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Greater Manchester. 

To find out more about the work of the VRU’s community-led approach to violence reduction, visit Community-Led Approach to Violence Reduction – Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (gmvru.co.uk) and follow @gm_vru on Twitter and Instagram.

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