Workshop: Case Study - From law breakers to crime fighters

Francois Le Goff

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Background: Time Bank, a charity that encourages people to give time to their local community, approached charity Crime Concern in June 2003 to see if they could work together on a volunteer recruitment campaign.

Crime Concern was keen to be involved after identifying a gap in its volunteer market. It needed to diversify its volunteers beyond its typical volunteer base of women in their mid-30s. "We wanted our volunteers to represent the diversity of the young people we are reaching," said Amy Reed, internal communication manager.

Crime Concern helps around 3,000 young people a year through its Youth Inclusion programmes, which aim to reduce youth-crime levels in local communities.

In November, the two organisations launched their crime-fighting campaign, 'What If...'. The campaign was timed to coincide with the publication of Time Bank's survey of young people's attitudes to crime. The survey targeted 200 young people aged 11-17 deemed at risk of turning to crime by local authorities, and discovered that more than half blamed boredom for their wayward behaviour.

Aims: The campaign sought to recruit 500 new volunteers for Crime Concern and targeted young black and ethnic minority males in particular. In order to reach this new audience, Time Bank needed to devise the right message and communicate it through the right channels. This meant getting coverage in ethnic newspapers such as The Voice and advertising in regional media in areas covered by the charity.

How it worked: Time Bank worked with Crime Concern to identify exactly how many volunteers each local project required, and what type of work needed to be done. Volunteers were needed as mentors, drug educators or to provide administrative support.

The charities worked with design agency Harry Monk to develop the campaign.

The visuals were designed to be funky and appealing to young people. The look was embodied in the Foxy Brown-inspired 'Miss CC', the sexy crime-fighter who stars in a computer game in which players help her save the day by catching falling gangsters in her afro. The game was played by 6,700 people who were then invited to find out more about the campaign.

Some 30,000 flyers were produced and distributed across England and Wales in record shops, clubs and sports centres. Adverts inspired by the flyer's design were secured at reduced rates in various regional papers, sports programmes, entertainment magazines and the ethnic press.

Capitalising on its close relationship with BBC London, Time Bank was able to feature the campaign on the BBC's Crimewatch website and to receive the support of Henry Bonsu, a former BBC London radio presenter. The BBC is keen to support the charity's work and Time Bank's media team provides community-related stories to the broadcaster.

The campaign was also supported by Aston Villa Football Club which ran ads in its match-day programme and offered home game tickets to young people volunteering for Crime Concern.

Results: To date, 650 people have expressed their interest in volunteering for Crime Concern, far exceeding the campaign's initial target. On average, 30 new volunteers sign up every week. A third of them are from a BME background, and three-quarters are under 45-years-old.

The campaign secured free advertising worth £42,000 in ethnic media and on Google. Crime Concern is now going through the lists of volunteers provided by Time Bank to allocate them to appropriate projects.

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