North Solihull Partnership backs scheme to help give youngsters a brighter future

(5th September 2007)

The North Solihull Partnership is providing £75,000 funding for a scheme that uses sport and leisure activities to keep youngsters on the straight and narrow.

Positive Futures has been running in North Solihull since 2002 and helps dozens of young people aged 8-19 from the local area who have been referred to the project from a variety of agencies, including Youth Offending Teams and Youth Inclusion Programmes, as well as the police, social services and schools.

The programme, based predominantly at North Solihull Sports Centre, offers young people the chance to get involved in a series of indoor and outdoor activities including ice hockey, football, basketball and martial arts, with a view to providing access to new opportunities for some of North Solihull's young people.

Since its launch Positive Futures has worked with more than 100,000 young people and there are currently more then 120 Positive Futures projects across the country. The North Solihull Partnership will provide an additional £75,000 of funding over the next three years to ensure the level of provision reflects the needs of young people growing up in North Solihull.

The North Solihull Partnership is made up of Solihull Council, Bellway Homes, regeneration specialists Inpartnership and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group. Together they are driving the £1.8 billion Regenerating North Solihull programme in Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst and Fordbridge that will see 8,000 new homes build and 12,500 more improved over the next 15 years, as well as the replacement of every primary school and construction of five new village centres.

Nick Garnett, head of leisure services at Solihull Council, said: "By engaging young people  in sport and other activities, Positive Futures aims to build relationships between responsible, 'role model' adults and the young people involved. The programme is designed to engender mutual trust and respect in order to create new opportunities for alternative lifestyles.

"Positive Futures aims to use sport as a catalyst to encourage participants to make decisions for themselves, and to take self-determined steps towards a better future. Steering young people towards educational and employment opportunities is at the heart of the programme's agenda."

The Positive Futures programme runs alongside the successful NS Fusion programme, which together have helped see crime cut in some of the worst affected areas of North Solihull. NS Fusion however - which is also part funded by the North Solihull Partnership - is a voluntary programme, whereas young people are referred onto the Positive Futures scheme, which is reflected in the intensive level of personal coaching and mentoring provided.

The five year, nationally acclaimed NS Fusion programme, which is aimed at young people aged between 10-24, now involves more than 200 participants every week, and has provided access to professional sports training for more than 20 long term unemployed people from the regeneration area.

Janet Bradbury, chief executive of the North Solihull Partnership, said: "The regeneration of North Solihull is about improving the lives of the 40,000 residents who live in the area, not just by providing new houses and amenities, but also be creating a safer and stronger community.

"The three wards of North Solihull are ranked in the top 10 most deprived anywhere in the country, and the social effects of this, such as low educational attainment, high unemployment and high levels of crime are all being tackled - alongside the issues of poor housing and minimal amenities - to ensure the project is a long term success.

"The Partnership is not only committed to improving the educational offer by replacing every primary school in the Regenerating North Solihull area, but is also actively supporting community initiatives, such as Positive Futures and NS Fusion, which have already clearly shown the huge constructive benefits they can have on young people in North Solihull."                                


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