Southern Co-op awards £100,000 to programmes tackling causes of crime

Fourteen organisations across Bristol, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Southampton and south London have been chosen to receive a share of £100,000 in their work tackling the causes of crime.

With retail crime on the rise, including an increase in the threat of violence and the use of weapons, Southern Co-op’s Safer Neighbourhood Fund aims to reduce these offences.

The regional co-operative was overwhelmed with the number of causes who applied for the grant and has chosen 14 to receive up to £7,500 each.

The 14 successful programmes are run by Avon Youth Club, Changing Tunes, Community Alcohol Partnerships, Dorset Reclaim, Empire Fighting Chance, Faithworks Wessex, Hope Housing Training & Support, Motiv8, Sixty-One, The Bourne Foundation, The Society of St James, The West of England Sport Trust (Wesport), Young Ealing Foundation and Youth Options.

Jessica Hughes​, Southern Co-op’s community investment manager, said: “None of our colleagues should have to face threats of violence so we are putting a lot of effort into tackling crime from every angle – causes, prevention, reporting and justice.

“The programmes these grants will be funding range from rehabilitation schemes for ex-offenders, youth projects for those identified as at risk, probation services, the homeless and/or those escaping addiction.

“Many of these people just need a chance to make a positive change in their lives. These programmes will give them that opportunity and hopefully help reduce future crime in our stores.”

The Safer Neighbourhood Fund has been co-ordinated with the help of Neighbourly, a giving platform that helps businesses make a positive impact in their communities by donating volunteer time, money and surplus products.

Steve Butterworth, Neighbourly CEO, said: “It’s been great to see the innovative approaches to tackling crime presented by the successful applicants, from sports and health and wellbeing initiatives to mentoring and education projects.

“The causes of crime within local communities are multi-faceted and the 14 selected organisations have demonstrated how they will collaborate with other projects and key organisations to make a real difference. It’s fantastic to work with Southern Co-op as they invest in their communities in this way.”

In Bournemouth and Portsmouth, Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs), are local partnerships which aim to tackle alcohol harm among young people, with a particular emphasis on preventing underage drinking. One of CAP’s priorities is alcohol education, to ensure that young people are equipped to make the right decisions about a range of issues, including drugs, anti-social and criminal behaviour. 

Kate Winstanley, director of CAP, said: “We know that young people’s drinking can put them at increased risk of physical and social harm. This very welcome funding from the Safer Neighbourhood Fund will enable us to support a further 120 young people across Bournemouth, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight who are at risk of becoming involved in crime or violence. They’ll not only increase their own awareness of the risks of underage drinking but will be empowered to spread the message to their peers and communities.”

In Bristol, Sixty-One will use the funding to expand its already successful MentorMe project helping ex-prisoners lead meaningful crime free lives.

Tim Snowdon, director at Sixty-One, said: “Through this programme Sixty-One’s volunteer mentors help reduce reoffending rates by 75%. They achieve this by regularly meeting with ex-prisoners to help them achieve their goals and deal with the challenges of life after prison.

“Last year we supported 67 ex-prisoners and want to increase this to 85. This is particularly important during the pandemic, as we have seen a more than doubling of the support provided by our volunteer mentors since the start of the lockdown.”