The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has supported workshops run for young people by the Rotherham United Community Trust.

The Community Trust has received funding from the VRU’s Violence Reduction Fund for its Making the Right Choices programme, which works with young people to improve mental health, and prevent involvement in gangs, drugs, knife crime, and gun crime.

The workshops, held at the New York Stadium in Rotherham, aimed to educate the young people taking part on child exploitation, including what it is, how to spot the signs, and how to report any concerns or issues they may be aware of.

Following the workshops, the young people took part in a football tournament in the afternoon.

Graham Jones, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “Rotherham United Community Trust do fantastic work in their local communities, reaching young people across their borough and helping to make a real difference in their lives.

“Working with young people is a key part of our Public Health Approach to tackling violence, and we recognise the important role of community-focused youth outreach programme in supporting and leading that work.

“The Making the Right Choices programme provides education, sports, and mental health support, building up young people’s understanding of themselves and the world around them, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to make positive and healthy life choices.”

Anthony Bayou, Youth and Inclusion Manager at Rotherham United Community Trust said: “Our Making the Right Choices programme has provided youth support and youth education to a wide range of diverse young people across the Rotherham Borough, covering some of the most stigmatised and troublesome topics effecting young people on a day-to-day basis. Through workshops, youth consultation, and engagement initiatives, we have been able to respond to community need, whilst developing our core staff team.

“Not only has the VRU funding allowed us to focus our delivery on educating young people on youth crime, it has further provided opportunities for young people to engage in physical activity and access mental health support, all of which we believe are big factors in young people making the right choices at the right time in their lives.

“As our project comes to an end, we believe the VRU have allowed us to create a hub of community support that young people are now aware of, helped us to build trust and relationships within communities, and given individuals confidence in the police, Rotherham United, and local support networks.

“All in all, 998 young people and 10 members of staff have taken part in our VRU funded Making the Right Choices programme, meaning 1,008 Rotherham-based individuals are now more aware of what youth crime and violence looks like, the effects it can have, and what support is in place to report, support, and make Rotherham a safer community for all.

“Thank you to the VRU for making this initiative possible.”