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A multi-agency initiative involving 16 organisations has been launched to tackle the exploitation of vulnerable people and youth violence in Newport.
Get Connected Newport, which is funded by Project ADDER, brings together Cleveland Police and partner agencies from across the local area including Middlesbrough Council, schools, and charities.
Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement, Recovery), is a project funded by the Home Office which aims to reduce drug deaths and promotes a joined-up approach to tackling harm.
The scheme was launched off the back of Project Connect - a 12-month interactive programme undertaken by all partner agencies - with an aim to collaborate and create solutions to community issues.
As part of the project, information was collated from professionals, the community and nearby schools, including over 350 young people, about the main issues affecting Newport residents.
Five workshops were then delivered over the course of a year by Project Connect founder Joseph Russo who was previously a peer reviewer for the Home Office’s Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation team.
This helped identify some key priorities such as identifying the needs of young people in Newport and improving communication between professionals and the community.
An action plan was then developed to address these issues.
The organisations have made a commitment to continue working together to build better relationships and communicate more effectively to ensure the best support is provided to young people.
Among those involved is the Linx Youth Project, which supports people through a number of issues including mental health problems and addiction, Middlesbrough FC Foundation and local housing providers.
Chief Inspector Jon Tapper, who is the lead for Project ADDER for Cleveland Police, said: “The Get Connected scheme is the result of a lot of hard work from both the force and partner agencies, who all have the same goal in mind.
“Everyone involved in the initiative is committed to tackling issues that matter to residents in Newport, including youth violence and exploitation, and provide an alternative for people who may otherwise go down that path.
“It has been extremely useful to work with other agencies, learn from them and gain their insights into the work that can be done – but this is only the start.
“We’re committed to working together into the future and we will be holding regular follow-up meetings to assess the progress of the scheme and where we want to be.
“We will always listen to concerns raised by residents, and I would encourage anyone with information about criminal activity in their area to contact us on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
Joseph Russo, founder of Project Connect, added: “We’re proud to be working with Cleveland Police, Middlesbrough Council, and all other partners involved to be able to bring about real, substantial change and open up a dialogue that will help us better understand our communities.
“It is really encouraging to see the energy and commitment that all the partners have brought to the project, and I’d like to thank them for their hard work so far and their hard work to come in the future.”
Cllr David Couple, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health, Public Protection and Digital Inclusion, said: “We are pleased to be working alongside our partners to deliver the Get Connected Newport and hope it helps in our efforts to improve things for Middlesbrough residents in the Newport ward.”