Features: January 20th, 2012

Anti-social behaviour and petty crime bring misery to many areas across the country. Many approaches are being used to tackle the problem, some more expensive than others. This feature describes how a crime reduction charity working in partnership with Community Housing succeeded in bringing change through a sports project.

Leading Community Gateway Association, Greenfields Community Housing, teamed up with Nacro Braintree Community Sports Project to provide sporting opportunities for young people across the Braintree District throughout Summer 2011. The project ‘Get Sporty, Get Healthy’ aimed to alleviate anti-social behaviour and petty crime through making sport both financially and logistically accessible to young people.

The Halstead Skate Park and those aged between 11-26 were targeted for engagement as part of the project. This scheme was unique because it provided the opportunity for the young people it targeted to volunteer within the project. They were given a role of responsibility and also encouraged to share their ideas of how it could be run.
Joshua Murdy and Billy Jackson, both from Halstead and aged 18 and 20 respectively, were selected as volunteers. Both have previous involvement with petty crime, yet expressed the desire to change their lives for the better – with fantastic results.

Joshua comments: “We have been volunteering for 10 hours per week – mainly helping out organising the Street 20 cricket and the football games at the skate park. It’s actually a lot harder to control a group of young people than I realised and it was really good to experience what the Nacro guys do on a daily basis.
This project has really helped improved my confidence and allowed me to develop some essential life skills. I hope we can be good role models to the younger people in the programme and show there are opportunities to involve yourself in community life and escape the path of alcohol, drugs, anti-social behaviour and crime.”

Phil Adams, Chief Executive of Greenfields Community Housing, says: “We are committed at Greenfields to improving the lives of our residents and this kind of community project is a prime example of how we want to make a difference. It has not only fostered a good working relationship with the many young people engaged in the activities, but also provided two young residents with the opportunity to significantly improve their life chances. Billy and Joshua have both worked very hard and I would like to thank them on behalf of Greenfields for this.”

Nacro is the leading crime reduction charity – working in partnership with Greenfields Community Housing – dedicated to changing lives and creating opportunities for young people aged 10–19 years. Working within environments highlighted as areas of deprivation – where incidents of youth nuisance and petty crime are particularly high – they focus on providing a diversionary activity away from anti-social behaviour whilst improving the self esteem, self confidence, health and fitness of youngsters.

Greenfields Community Housing is a not-for-profit, Community Gateway housing association launched to give tenants and leaseholders a big influence in how their housing service is run. The organisation has approximately 8,100 homes spread over the district, which covers Braintree, Witham and Halstead and many surrounding towns and villages, as well as approximately 450 leasehold properties.

For more information on Greenfields Community Housing, please visit www.GreenfieldsCH.org.uk or call 01376 535400.