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A summer youth engagement scheme organised by PCSOs in Penrith has been hailed a success.PCSO Chris Newman ran the project during the summer holidays aimed at children in their final year of primary school.
Ten children from Penrith joined PCSOs to take part in a variety of activities, including caving, canoeing and climbing. They then attended Merlin Court sheltered housing scheme to meet the elderly residents and do a presentation about what they had done and what they had learnt, followed by a tour of Hunter Lane police station.
The purpose of the project was to improve relationships between police and local youngsters by giving PCSOs and officers the opportunity to engage with them in a positive environment, rather than in response to an incident. This aim was to encourage youngsters to respect police and encourage them not to get involved in antisocial behaviour in the future.
Many victims of antisocial behaviour are elderly people, who can feel threatened by large groups of youngsters, so by meeting the residents of Merlin Court PCSOs hope to promote more understanding between the two groups.
Funding was provided by the Carlisle & Eden Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, Scaws Tenants and residents association and Eden Community Housing Organisation. Outdoor equipment was generously loaned to the project by Outward Bound Ullswater and Blencathra Field Studies centre. Go Outdoors Penrith also helped by donated ten sleeping bags to the project.
PCSO Chris Newman said: “The project aimed to break down barriers between Police and young people, provide positive role models in the form of PCSOs and instructors, and give an insight into the different activities available for young people. The transition from primary to secondary school is a significant moment in a young person’s life, and a key time for us to engage with them and promote good behaviour.
“It has been successful because it allowed police to interact with young people and provide positive attention without any wrong doing or antisocial behaviour leading up to this engagement. Everyone involved got something out of the project, children and adults alike.
“The outdoor activities were arranged to provide a distraction for the youngsters, as the best way to prevent antisocial behaviour is to keep children occupied and develop pride in their community. The youngsters who took part were challenged both physically and mentally and were excellent ambassadors for their generation when they visited the Merlin Court residents.
“I would like to thank all those who helped fund the project, along with thanks to Outward Bound and Blencathra Field Studies centre, Merlin court residents, Go Outdoors and to all the young people that took part.”
The families of the youngsters involved were also impressed with the project.
Amanda Banks from Penrith, whose son Jordan took part, said: “The project has been brilliant, with Jordan participating in loads of activities - he only wished it could have gone on for longer.”
Jayne Murray, mother of Kevin Murray, added: “The project has been ideal in that it showed the children that they didn’t need to have been naughty in order to get a treat. Kevin smiled every time he was going to do an activity, and learnt that he could take on new challenges successfully.”
The Eden Neighbourhood Policing Team hopes to run the project again next summer. For further information about the project contact PCSO Chris Newman on 101