Street football volunteers in Staffordshire net £14k to expand scheme

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Volunteers running street football sessions in Staffordshire have netted almost £14,000 to expand their scheme.

Sporting Communities, which helps keep teenagers out of trouble on the streets, has received a payout from the police’s proceeds of crime fund.

The volunteer programme that aims to prevent anti-social behaviour in Staffordshire has received £13,466 from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis.

One of the senior volunteers Ross Podyma said: “We use our funding from the PCC on sporting equipment, mobile floodlights for the winter months and flasks for hot drinks.

“Sometimes a game of football is the most important thing to do, but others it’s sitting around and talking to the kids about local issues over a cup of tea.”

Volunteers engage youngsters in sport and use this as a way to connect with teens and help with issues in the community.

They have pre-planned sport “street sessions” that get youths engaged in sport – and away from anti-social behaviour.

Sessions have already taken place in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cheadle, Biddulph and Leek – areas identified by police as hotspots for anti-social behaviour.

The sessions are overseen by the charity Project House, which also receives funding from the proceeds of crime fund.

David Farr, originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, has a history of anti-social behaviour including vandalism, fighting and under-age drinking.

But he feels volunteering for the group has helped change his life.

He said: “After a few months of volunteering, Ross and Ben introduced me into the qualifications I could gain if I carried on working with them.

“Alongside working with vulnerable teens and helping them out, I am also bettering myself and working towards full-time career.

“It was hard to get our of the habits of anti-social behaviour but I did it to help others.”

The volunteers are also involved in a scheme called Cooperative Street Games and the Sports Leaders UK Academy.

Ross and David hope to develop Sporting Communities with future funding to go into broader community-based services.

Ross added: “You can tell David and myself are really passionate about our work because we can see the difference in the young people and the communities we work with.

“We can see the transformation.”

For more information about Sporting Communities visit their website http://www.sportingcommunitiescic.org/home.html

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