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World News

£1million investment for two Welsh towns will help save young people from knife crime, says vicar

by Donna Birrell

Two towns in Wales are to get a £1 million investment to help protect young people and children from violence.

The project in Grangetown and Butetown will be working with local places of worship, schools and the community sector.

The money is part of the Youth Endowment Neighbourhood Fund, which puts community engagement and partnership at the heart of efforts to prevent violence and keep young people safe. 

The towns, south of Cardiff, have been chosen as it's believed they offer the biggest opportunity to empower local communities to make change. The decision to work in the region was made after six months of speaking to places of worship, local authorities, the community sector, schools, young people and the local police.

Cardiff South Ministry Area and St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales Primary School are part of the core team leading the project.

Fr Dean Atkins is leader of South Cardiff Ministry Area. He tells Premier more about the work which he hopes will change - and even save - lives:"Cardiff Bay ranks second on the South Wales Police list of top 20 incidents of knife crime appearances, so the number of young people who are affected by this issue and by youth violence by knife crime, is fairly substantial. 

"But I don't want to make it sound as if we're in a kind of gangland community, because this community is amazing. We've got so much going for us - we're strong, we're resilient and this is about preventing young people getting drawn into youth crime and knife crime."

The project is working with Citizens Cymru to hear the views of the local community, so that all decisions about the project reflect what they want to see in their local area.

A long-term and sustainable action plan will be developed and The Youth Endowment Fund will provide support, investing up to £1m over a period lasting up to five years for the community to put their plans into action.

Fr Dean says much of the project will be spent listening to the community: "We're attempting to speak to thousands of local people of all ages, in order to hear their stories. This is not about creating solutions at the moment, this is about listening to the problems and to the stories and to the issues. 

"Once we've accomplished that, by the end of March, we will then break those issues down into solutions."

He continued: "Although the 15 to 19, age group is the biggest age group for knife crime, we've also talked to younger children, because this is as much about prevention and those young people's voices need to be heard."

Fr Dean says one of the strengths of the project is its diversity with many faiths and none working together: "These two communities are historically and presently very multicultural. We've got good working relationships and friendships with people of different faiths. We've got strong relationships with the local mosques, Tiger Bay boxing club, for instance, does amazing work in the local community. It works from one of the mosques and so they are embedded in this project, they are part of the core team as well. 

"We recognise that we accomplish more when we work together, when we build power together, when we organise a community and collaborate. We're not alone in this and we could never accomplish anything like this on our own."

According to a House of Commons report published in September 2021, in the year between 2020 and 2021, there were 811 instances involving a knife in South Wales. This equates to 61 offences per 100,000 of the population.

North Wales had the equivalent of 38 per 100,000, Gwent had 40 and Dyfed Powys Police had 28.

In England, Greater Manchester had around 107 instances per 100,000 population and West Midlands force area had 156 per 100,000 people. 


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