More than 15,000 school children are set to benefit from theatre performances which seek to educate on the dangers of becoming involved in County Lines.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has launched the 13 week tour which will be delivered to young people in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire as part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund project.
One hundred and thirty schools will welcome tour company AlterEgo Creative Solutions throughout the autumn school term with additional sessions being held for young people not in education, parents and professionals.
Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said: “We are delighted to have launched the theatre performances across the Thames Valley as part of our ongoing work to educate young people in our communities. I attended one of the productions myself and, as well as raising awareness of County Lines, the performance reflects on other important areas including grooming and child sexual exploitation.
“Alongside this, we have funded a Fearless Worker to deliver workshops in schools and youth venues across the Thames Valley. Covering topics such as drugs and knife crime, these sessions are designed to challenge common misconceptions held by young people as well as signposting them to advice and support.
“All of this is taking place at the same time as ongoing work by a number of different providers to reduce school exclusions and work intensively with young people already involved in gangs and other criminal activity.
“Projects like this are really important to educate young people in our communities and give them any support they need early on, before any issues turn into lifelong problems. Preventative work in the first instance is imperative and can be the turning point for many young people.
“As part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund we’ve also been focussing on upskilling those working with young people to ensure that they are able to give them the support that they need. Over 500 professionals across the Thames Valley have already attended the Gang Awareness training delivered by Reach Every Generation, with more sessions being held between now and Christmas.”
Last week was the national County Lines Intensification Week and aligned with this a flurry of activity has taken place. During this week alone the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley organised the theatre performance in 11 secondary schools and youth venues in Buckinghamshire, four Gang Awareness training sessions in Bracknell, West Berkshire and Wycombe (with around 140 professionals being trained), and three ‘Fearless’ workshops delivered in Oxfordshire.