StreetChance diverts young people away from crime and provides ‘safe havens’ from gangs, says new report
Wednesday 02 July 2014
Young people in the most deprived areas of the UK are now involved in teams, rather than in gangs thanks to StreetChance, according to new research published today (Wednesday, 2 July).
The New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) think tank found that StreetChance, a partnership between the Cricket Foundation charity and Barclays, is playing a role in reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour in major cities across the country.
StreetChance runs weekly cricket sessions for young people in some of the most socially deprived areas, typically within the worst 20 per cent in the UK. It offers free cricket coaching in community venues such as leisure centres, sports halls, youth clubs and housing estates. The sessions are often supplemented by informal education classes that address topics such as gangs, knife crime and drug abuse.
In the report, NPC researchers state that the StreetChance scheme mainly works with young people who hold ‘pro-social’ attitudes. However, ‘there is a small but significant group who are at risk of committing crime and anti-social behaviour’.
Many of this high risk group likened themselves to other young people who commit crimes. When asked how similar they are to peers who are involved in gangs, between 10-20 per cent reported they are “just like me” or “quite like me”.
NPC highlights three key ways the scheme can help to alleviate youth crime and anti-social behaviour in some of UK’s major cities:
• Firstly, by providing diversionary activities, StreetChance can reduce the likelihood that young people will offend simply by reducing the opportunity for such behaviour;
• Secondly, the 10-20 per cent of young people involved in the scheme who have the more anti-social attitudes and are most at risk of offending are exposed to new relationships with people outside their normal criminal network. They may be influenced by this majority social group.
StreetChance can also make a difference by providing young people in this group who want to disassociate themselves from gangs, with an opportunity to continue to stay away from external negative influences.
• Thirdly, StreetChance can provide a ‘safe haven’ for the majority of children and young people who hold generally social attitudes, thereby reducing the risk that any of them will get involved in crime and anti-social behaviour over time. Many participants choose not to get involved with gangs and StreetChance helps them with that choice.
There are currently over 50 StreetChance projects in seven cities: Birmingham, Bristol, Dewsbury, Hull, Liverpool, London and Manchester. All but a few areas in which projects are run are in deprived and high-crime areas. Since the scheme launched in 2008, more than 38,000 young people have participated in StreetChance projects.
StreetChance operations manager, Richard Joyce said, “StreetChance is providing safe havens for good kids in tough areas. It’s also having a positive impact on a small but significant group of young people at risk of getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. It diverts them away from negative influences and introduces them to positive role models and supportive peers.“
Ahwais Khan, 16, from Saltley in Birmingham joined StreetChance as a 12 year old. Ahwais was a handful for the coaches, with a negative attitude reflective of the bad crowd he was involved with. He admits, “I was disturbing lessons and getting loads of detentions. I had a couple of fights when I had just had enough, and just had a really negative performance at school. It definitely affected my grades. Outside school I was mixing with the wrong crowd and just messing about really.”
Since he started StreetChance Ahwais has made the school team every year and has even become captain. “I would have never, ever got near that team if I hadn’t done StreetChance. It’s given me loads of confidence and responsibility. I’ve matured a lot from it.”
His behavioural improvement through StreetChance has acted as a catalyst for improved educational performance in school too. Ahwais clearly appreciates the link, stating, “StreetChance has shown me the right path. I’ve been on the right path for a couple of years now, improving my behaviour, improving my grades. At the moment I’m passing all my exams. I’ve not had one detention all year.”
Looking to the future, Ahwais is staying at school to take A-Levels and dreams of a job working in motor vehicle engineering. Looking at the group of people he used to associate with on the streets, he appreciates that things could have turned out differently. “I just broke away from all those guys on my own. I just thought, ‘these are the wrong people, the wrong friends.’ Now I see them just hanging around on the streets. Some have got in trouble with the police for knife crime. If I hadn’t got involved in StreetChance, that would definitely be me.”
StreetChance also trains young apprentice coaches who were once participants in the sessions. The programme helps the young coaches improve their employment prospects by providing them with skills and experience.
Shakeel Ahmed, 21, from Tower Hamlets has been involved in StreetChance for six years. Before Shakeel became engaged, he admits that his lack of focus led to him hanging around with a bad crowd and channelling his energy in the wrong way: “Before StreetChance I wasn’t thinking too much about the future. I wasn’t involved in cricket before it came to my school and I was getting in trouble because I wasn’t involved in anything.”
Cricket has helped Shakeel to move away from negative influences, and once he turned 16 his coach encouraged him to take a StreetChance-funded coach education course. After completing his course, Shakeel started work as a paid apprentice coach delivering StreetChance projects in Tower Hamlets’ schools and communities. He has since gained a Finance and Accountancy degree at the University of East London – paid for out of his coaching income - and Middlesex Cricket Board has offered him a full-time community coaching role.
Shakeel says, “Without StreetChance I would have no other skills, no work experience, no paid work. I’d be worried about my future. Now I can afford to be calm and I have no need to worry.”
StreetChance uses a tape-ball – a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape - and can be played in areas with limited space, making it perfect for estates and inner-city areas. It can be played on hard-court areas, is accessible, fast and inclusive, with innings lasting 20 balls and matches around 20 minutes.
Click here to find and download the New Philanthropy Capital report