A pioneering scheme to boost young people’s confidence and reduce anti-social behaviour in Longridge has been so successful it may now be rolled out in other areas.
The early intervention project, entitled UCan do it!, was launched in April, 2018.
It was created by Lisa Murdock, a Pastoral Liaison Officer at Longridge High School and former Manchester police sergeant Steve Kenny who have set up a social enterprise company to help young people secure a better future for themselves and their communities.
A delighted Lisa said: “It’s currently based in Longridge, however we can go out to any area.”
Around 50 young people from years 7, 8 and 10 at Longridge High School have so far taken part in the UCan pilot programme.
The impetus to find ways of intervening at an early stage to prevent behaviour issues escalating and/or youngsters potentially being drawn into criminal activity came after complaints of increasing anti-social behaviour in the town.
Ribble Valley Councillor Rupert Swarbrick welcomed the initiative and said: “The work UCan has done with young people has made a significant and noticeable impact on the reduction of anti-social behaviour in Longridge; if only we could have more interventions like this.”
Lisa stressed the project is about nipping problems before they escalate and they wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives. She said problems in the town had been varied:“There was drinking, drugs, being abusive to people and to police as well, criminal damage, and gang culture. There was a lot of police presence.”
She added: “We’ve not just done it on our own. We’ve worked alongside other agencies."
Funding for the initiative, which was run offsite at Waddecar Scout camp,came from four sources: £3,800 from Ribble Valley Council, £1,500 from Longridge Town Council, £3,000 from Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and £1,500 from Onward Homes
.It ran for a year on a rolling programme with groups of up to eight pupils attending for six weeks. The project also worked with families and provides a follow up service.
The scheme has also gained praise from the Longridge Community Gym where Angie Harrison said: “The project is making a hugely positive impact on the lives of young people in our community, helping to improve the young people’s confidence, self esteem and wellbeing and keeping them in school.”
Lisa, who has previously worked as a Pastoral Liaison Officer at St Cecilia’s High School, said the scheme helps those disengaged from school or facing particular problems and confidence issues. Workshops are delivered on issues ranging from knife crime, drugs and alcohol, violence and aggression to goals and aspirations, emotional wellbeing, first aid awareness and fire safety. There are also regular one to one sessions.