A partnership youth project has helped turn around anti-social behaviour on one of Sheffield’s toughest estates.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has worked with partners including Salvation Army and South Yorkshire Police to deliver a 10 week youth club project on the Badger Estate, Woodhouse.
The scheme sees youngsters meet once a week to take part in physical activities like football, basketball and dodgeball, as well as educational sessions around first aid, road safety and the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
The scheme runs from January to March each year, when the number of alternative, positive activities available to youngsters in the area is normally at its lowest.
It’s had a big effect, cutting fires by a third. The number of anti-social behaviour fires in south east Sheffield fell from 52 in 2013 to 35 this year.
SYFR arson reduction officer Steve Vinson, said: “We can’t say that this project alone has led to the big reductions in anti-social behaviour, but we are convinced that engaging with young people in this way is one of the best ways of building lasting, positive relationships which have long term benefits for the communities we serve.
“It’s only by working together that public agencies can put together initiatives like this one and we are grateful to all the partners involved in helping us deliver these youth clubs for the third year running.”
It’s not just in south east Sheffield that fire service youth work is making an impact.
Arson in South Yorkshire has halved in the last three years, with the fire service crediting its ongoing community interventions with the big drop in anti-social behaviour incidents.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended 2,527 small, deliberate incidents like bin and grass fires in 2014/15- half the number it attended three years ago (5,082). Twelve years ago, in 2003/04, the figure was even higher- 11,303.
Recent initiatives held elsewhere in the county include a youth project held at Rotherham fire station, which aimed to highlight the consequences of anti-social behaviour and provide an intensive multi-agency work experience course to improve the life chances of the young people involved.
Arson cycle teams patrol known trouble spots during peak times of the year, speaking to youngsters about the consequences of arson.
Firefighters also deliver education packages to schools and safety teams visit youth clubs to deter fire setting.
For more information about the fire service’s work with young people, visit www.syfire.gov.uk