Scheme to tackle youth crime in South Yorkshire saved

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A service that aims to cut the number of young people descending into a life of crime and ease pressure on the NHS in South Yorkshire has been saved from closure.

Pathways, delivered by Together for Mental Wellbeing, offers support to vulnerable 16-to-24-year-olds in Rotherham who are normally dealt with by the emergency services and medics - including victims of child sexual exploitation.

The organisation says it has reduced the number of young adults coming into contact with the police by more than a third.

Staff carry out an assessment of each young person’s needs, then gives individuals practical help to manage their mental health and better engage with society, from employment, training and housing schemes to drug treatment.

Particular emphasis is given to identifying, understanding and altering problem behaviour, and teaching the necessary strengths to sustain any changes - such as emotional awareness, assertiveness, negotiation and problem-solving skills.

Originally, the service was one of six that formed part of the T2A Alliance’s three-year national Transition to Adulthood Pathway programme. Some users are homeless or have learning disabilities.

The funding has been provided through a partnership comprising the Barrow Cadbury Trust, which funds the T2A alliance; South Yorkshire Police; the office of Dr Alan Billings, the county’s crime commissioner; and the NHS.

Money was needed for the service to continue when the initial pilot period neared its end.

Liz Felton, CEO of Together for Mental Wellbeing, said: ‘We’re delighted that our Pathways team are able to continue their vital work in Rotherham. By continuing to work closely together we can help more young people of Rotherham access the support they need, while also alleviating pressure on the town’s primary care and emergency services.

“We really believe in this model and our funding partnerships show that agencies across the voluntary, healthcare and criminal justice sectors see how valuable the service is too.”

Sara Llewellin, chief executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, added: “We all know young people do not wake up on their 18th birthday miraculously fully mature.

“Having mental or emotional health needs obviously makes things trickier for those that experience them. The T2A alliance argues for a sensible approach.

“The project does a very effective job of this and the local crime statistics in Rotherham bear this out.”