Hundreds of young people in Swindon benefit from programme designed to reduce anti-social behaviour

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Swindon Borough Council has used funding from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund to commission programmes to be run in schools and colleges to help educate students and reduce anti-social behaviour.

The Council was given £1.4m in the latest round of funding, which is partially being used to run workshops and one-to-one sessions with local students who have been referred onto the programmes by schools.

The funding, which can be used between October 2022 to March 2024, has helped over 1,299 young people so far, across 25 places of education. The largest percentage of budget is being spent in secondary schools, and the Home Office is using Swindon as a pilot area for the programme, to set as a blueprint to potentially roll out to other areas in the country.

The grant has been split across three different programmes in the town. The first is an anti-social behaviour workshop, provided by Iprovefit, which offers one-to-one sessions to students who have shown behavioural issues. With the permission of parents, 415 young people were provided weekly sessions designed to improve positive values around oneself and increase positive community engagement.

Since the introduction of this initiative, it is shown that there has been an increase in knowledge of the dangers of bringing knives into school.

Barnardos were also commissioned to run a similar programme with young girls across Swindon. Based on Barnardo’s Real Loves Rocks programme, 420 students across Swindon have taken part in workshops to promote children and young people’s rights to healthy, consensual and safe relationships across their community.

The third initiative was led by ‘Our School Now’, a youth-led initiative designed to end public sexual harassment (PSH) through the education of young people and teachers. Their mission is for every young person to feel equipped to challenge harassment and stereotypes. Almost 400 students and members of staff have attended the training so far. The sessions involved asking the young people to design a campaign which could help to raise awareness of the issue of PSH and come up with ideas of what could be done to tackle it.

At the end of the sessions, 71% of students felt they had increased knowledge on what PSH is and why it happens. Meanwhile, 77% had increased knowledge on how to tackle PSH, and 73% felt more strongly that they had the power to create positive change on PSH.

A Health and Social Care Lecturer at New College Swindon, said- “Our students really enjoyed the workshop, and our teachers were incredibly impressed with how well they engaged with activities. Exploring real-life experiences of PSH helped the students to understand what PSH is and the impact it has on young people.

“The focus on designing campaigns and being proactive was really engaging, and the students were inspired to be creative, imaginative and productive, producing pieces of work that they were all incredible proud of. We are looking forward to welcoming the team back to facilitate more workshops with even more students.”

Councillor Jim Grant, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Joint Working, said: “I’m really pleased to hear such positive feedback about these programmes which were commissioned by the Council. As we move into the next school year, the programme will continue to provide young people the opportunity to feel informed about community safety and how to make a positive contribution to the town and themselves. I look forward to seeing how these will continue to make a positive impact on our young people.”