Making a difference to young people in Knowsley

Merseyside / March 01

A youth centre which has been at the heart of the community for more than 50 years is running a vital outreach project to support young people in Knowsley, thanks to a small cash boost from Merseyside’s Police Commissioner.

Centre 63 runs a host of activities aimed at engaging with and supporting young people in Kirkby. In November, the centre was awarded £9,000 from Jane Kennedy’s Crime Prevention Fund to work in partnership with the CELLS project and Merseyside People to support young people in the community who are in danger of getting involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell visited the centre yesterday during an out and about day in Knowsley to find out more about the progress of the project which includes awareness events, street-based outreach work and intensive one-to-one interventions and support, and hear about the centre’s wider work to support young people.

The centre, which has been operating since 1963, also runs a nightly youth club attended by up to 45 young people, a Volunteer Project which gives tailored support to young people aged 16-25 who are not in employment, education or training and runs the Y.E.S project, which gives advice and practical support to some of the Borough’s more vulnerable young people on issues including housing, money and debt advice.

Emily said: “Using a small grant from the Commissioner’s Crime Prevention Fund, Centre 63 are reaching the young people in the area who are most at risk of getting involved in behaviour which could either put them in danger or they may regret in the future and helping them to make better, safer life choices. The value of this work cannot be overstated, for the young people themselves, their families and the wider community.

“Centre 63 has been making a difference in the lives of young people in Knowsley for 55 years. It was great to hear about the work the staff and volunteers do to help some of the most vulnerable young people and teenagers in the Borough, providing everything from food and housing support, to advice on money and house and emotional support.  Without their commitment and dedication, there is no doubt that many more young people over the years would have fallen on hard times."

While at Centre 63, Emily also visited the CELLS (Choices, Education and Life-long Learning) project, which is based in the same building on Old Hall Street, and has also previously received funding from the Crime Prevention Fund to educate young people about the consequences of crime. CELLS run workshops, interactive presentations and props, including a mobile and static prison cell and sweat box, to engage with young people and get their message across.

During the tour, led by CELLS founder Shaun Glanville, the Deputy Commissioner heard about how the key strength of the scheme though, is the CELLS team itself which consists of people who have been affected by crime, mainly reformed offenders, rehabilitated drug users and victims of crime, violence and abuse.

Emily said “It was really interesting to meet Shaun and find out more about the important work this project is doing at the centre, in schools and out in the community to raise awareness of the dangerous and life-changing consequences for young people of getting involved with crime. Over the last nine years, they have encouraged scores of young people to stay on track and make more informed decisions about the type of life they want.”

The Deputy Commissioner continued her tour by meeting Knowsley Local Policing Sergeant Julian Hanley and members of his team, including PC Jackie Bruce and PCSOs Ian Griffiths and Shaun Davidson to take a tour of some of the key hotspot areas in the Borough and hear about the issues they are facing in the week and the multi-agency work being done to keep communities safe. Earlier in the week, the Local Policing team had been in the Westvale area speaking to residents and offering reassurance following open land searches in the area.

Find out more about Centre 63 here and the CELLS project.