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Norfolk project to stop youth County Lines involvement

Norfolk project to stop youth County Lines involvement

Published by KLFM
12:59pm 2nd March 2020.

A mentoring project is offering learning and work experiences for young people in Norfolk at risk of being exploited by County Lines gangs.

The Pathways Out Programme is being delivered by the Norfolk PCC to boost the confidence of those involved by encouraging their talents and interests.

46 young people aged 17 and under have been referred to the project since it launched.  

The aim is to show those who are vulnerable to getting recruited by County Lines gangs what their future could hold if they didn't get involved.

Pathways Out launched last April and offers personalised mentoring support to these young people.

Schools across Norwich and Great Yarmouth refer students to the programme - two areas of Norfolk where youth work has shown County Lines gangs are an issue.

Mentors work with young people to build their confidence and help them build new skills by getting them involved with activities they're interested in - it's hoped that by increasing their motivation and ambition, they'll be encouraged to explore other career options.

While some people just like to chat to mentors about the challenges they're facing, others need help with applications to college courses or finding training/work experience.  

The project also means some young people have been able to be involved with activities they would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise - such as martial arts and art classes.

Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green says prevention is key to keeping our county safe:

“County Lines and the serious violence that goes hand-in-hand with it are not exclusively policing issues; they will not be solved by enforcement action alone.

“Projects like Pathways Out are pulling together the skills, knowledge and experience of experts across our county to not only identify and safeguard our young people, but also show them that their life story is still being written, that they have options and that their future can be so much brighter.” 

MAP’s Community Youth Work Manager, Will Mills, said:

“As an organisation we believe in education and early intervention.

This pilot project has given us the opportunity to work with those most at risk; identifying these dangers, and helping to educate.”

Although funding for Pathways Out is due to be cut at the end of March, MAP will keep giving similar mentoring for young people across Norfolk alongside their education.

“We take a positive and solution-focussed approach to our mentoring work; we find out their strengths and support them to grow in the areas that they feel hold them back”.

“I’m happy to say that in many cases this has made a real difference to some individuals and we will certainly continue to offer this work for more young people across Norfolk.”

Young people involved in the project have had this to say:

  •  “I feel really chilled at the moment, feel like I now know what I need to do to get to the point of doing something I want to do.”
  •  “My head is in a lot better place. I’ve got goals now, I’ve got a purpose.”

One local school also had the following feedback on Pathways Out:

  • “For one student the impact was seen immediately in the way he reacted to those around him making poor choices…I really think this could be pivotal in him staying in school.”