Sheffield community groups get together to tackle gangs

Rysz Szumski, of Woodthorpe Development Trust
Rysz Szumski, of Woodthorpe Development Trust
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YOUNG people are being steered away from gangs and crime thanks to a pioneering initiative led by community leaders across Sheffield.

Groups representing people living in areas ranging from Manor and Woodthorpe to Westfield, Parson Cross and Burngreave are getting together for regular meetings to discuss ways they can help youngsters stay on the straight and narrow.

Premier League referee Howard Webb officiating the Kickz 2011 Community Cup, one of the activities put on to keep youngsters away from trouble.

Premier League referee Howard Webb officiating the Kickz 2011 Community Cup, one of the activities put on to keep youngsters away from trouble.

And they are also working with Sheffield United’s Kickz community football programme to provide sports activities.

Ryz Szumski, of Woodthorpe Development Trust, said: “The meetings started after Government ministers came to Sheffield to see why the city did not have any riots in 2011 and praised the good community cohesion.

“Community groups decided to take it further and have been getting together every few weeks for the last few months. The council has cut funding for work with young people but organisations such as ours are still involved.

“We don’t deal with responses to specific incidents, but we aim to use our expertise with young people to ensure they have activities and don’t get into trouble to begin with.”

Patrick Piearcey, of Sheffield United Community Foundation, which runs Kickz, said: “Our social inclusion programme, which is partly delivered through Kickz, aims to create safer, stronger and more respectful communities.”

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, whose area includes Westfield, said: “I think it’s helpful that community groups are coming together in this way.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council cabinet members for children and young people, praised the ‘fantastic work carried out by these organisations’.