Premier League club Watford FC hosted an intervention and aspiration day at their Vicarage Road ground on Tuesday, June 18, for young people at risk of being drawn into gangs.
The young people were invited by the club as part of an initiative run by the Watford Community Sports and Education Trust and supported by both Hertfordshire Constabulary and The Josh Hanson Trust.
The event was part of ongoing partnership work aiming to provide support and opportunities for young people in the community.
Those chosen got to take part in a range of activities designed to get them working in teams in order to help them build confidence and encourage positive outlooks.
The young people had been identified through various initiatives linked into Hertfordshire’s Serious Violence Strategy, which aims to divert children and young people at an early stage before they become embedded in gang culture.
The strategy links together professionals from the police, health, education, social services and other organisations that supports young people, so that those displaying signs that they are at risk can be identified and diverted through mentoring and engagement programmes.
Sergeant Helen Croughton from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Gangs and Schools Team said: “A fantastic day was spent at Watford FC with some of our at-risk young people that we are working with.
“It was a day of team building, breaking down barriers, positive communication and raising the aspirations of these young people. They even had the chance to punch us and aimed only for the pads! It was a really positive event for all involved.”
Rob Clarke, Head of Skills and Safeguarding at Watford Football Club’s Community Sports and Education Trust said: “At Watford FC CSE Trust, we are proud to be working with Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Gangs and Schools Team in support of their Lives Not Knives campaign.
“Using the power of football, Watford FC and partnerships like that with The Josh Hanson Trust, are vitally important in raising awareness and tackling knife crime, which is why we are committed to building on workshops and events such as these.”
The Gangs and Schools team will be running events throughout the year, details of which will be shared via their Twitter channel: @HertsCYP.
Be on the look-out for warning signs that could suggest a child may be involved in gang activity:
• A child or young person going missing from school or home
• Significant changes in emotional well-being or significant decline in school results/performance
• The use of drugs and alcohol
• A young person meeting unfamiliar adults or a change to their behaviour
• Relationships with controlling or older individuals or associated with gangs
• Receiving excessive amounts of texts or phone calls and/or having multiple mobile phone handsets
• Acquiring money or expensive gifts they can’t account for
• Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries
• Becoming isolated from peers or social networks
• Carrying weapons
If you have any concerns about a young person displaying some of these signs you can report information online at herts.police.uk/Report or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via web chat here herts.police.uk/contact
You can also call the non-emergency number 101 and ask for Herts Police.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org