The London Irish Foundation, official charity of London Irish rugby club, has partnered with the Metropolitan Police in an initiative to help young people in the north Kensington area of the capital.
Using rugby as the catalyst the Foundation and Police have created an intervention programme that is working with young male students at Kensington Aldridge Academy. The 12-week programme, which started in April, and opens up channels to communicate.
Participants take part in rugby activities coached by Foundation staff and Metropolitan Police Officers. In addition to rugby training, the Police conduct workshops updating the young people’s knowledge on a range of issues including stop and search, county lines, exploitation, and knife crime.
Speaking about the initiative, Inspector Tom Sincock of the Kensington and Chelsea Neighbourhoods Police Team, said, “Working with the Foundation and the Academy has given local police officers and officers from Southwest Territorial Support Group the opportunity to engage and build trust and confidence with young people in the area. Using rugby and its core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline, and sportsmanship has helped us to break down barriers and show our officers in different light.
“This project has given officers the ability to start difficult and engaging conversations with young people on stop and search, gangs, county lines, knife crime and life choices. Rugby has given both young people and police an environment to discuss these topics honestly, learning from each other’s experience and build lasting relationships within our community,” Inspector Sincock continued. “I would like to thank London Irish Foundation and Kensington Aldridge Academy for their support and sharing the overarching goal to give young people an amazing opportunity to learn new skills and values.”
Commenting on the partnership, Joseph Pegg, Manager of the London Irish Foundation said, “Our involvement in this project is proving to be very worthwhile. The young people involved have to confront so many obstacles on a daily basis, if we can help them overcome some of the challenges then we will have made a difference to their future prospects.
“The Police Officers involved have provided fantastic support in the sessions, giving really useful insights on many of the situations that the young people face,” Joseph added “I have been particularly impressed with the behaviour and the level of respect the participants have shown all concerned. We are working to set up a route to ensure these young people can continue their rugby outside of school.’
Amy Gurnell from the KAA Academy added, “We are incredibly grateful to London Irish and the Metropolitan Police for their efforts with this project. Despite some initial hesitations, our boys have thoroughly enjoyed taking part; this is credit to the way in which the project is so carefully planned and delivered. We are aware that there can be heavily embedded barriers between young people and the police, but I have witnessed first-hand how this project provides a safe platform for exploring this further, with the core values of rugby at the heart of way in which these challenging topics are approached. This project has been valuable in every sense, and I trust that the participants and their parents wholeheartedly agree”.
Andy Keast Foundation CEO said, "the link with the Metropolitan Police has really given the edge to this project, and the outcomes have been beneficial to all parties.
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