ON THE GROUND: Bridgend Youth Works programme

Scheme: Youth Works is a national programme jointly run by Crime Concern, Marks & Spencer and Groundwork to reduce juvenile crime in the most disadvantaged communities

Funding: National Lottery funds the central staff on Youth Works but each of the 11 projects attracts additional financial support. The Bridgend programme is sustained by grants totalling £55,000 from Lloyds TSB Foundation and the Moller Foundation.

Objectives: To establish sustainable programmes of activity that steer people aged eight to 25 away from crime.

Bridgend's Wildmill Estate is one of the most disadvantaged in Wales.

The estate is home to heroin users as young as 10. Built in the 1970s, there is an abject lack of activities to divert young people away from a life of drugs and crime.

Local people tried to fund improvements through the Community First initiative, but because the estate is situated in a relatively affluent ward, it failed to qualify for funding.

So when the Bridgend youth annoyance group heard of Youth Works, it agreed to support one of its programmes.

Each programme is run on a multi-agency approach involving local businesses, voluntary groups, councils and the police.

Project manager Reg Denley, who has more than 20 years' experience in youth and social work, is the only full-time member of staff.

The programme revolves around the establishment of a drop-in centre, which provides a focal point for the programme.

A former furniture centre on the estate that had been derelict for some time was hired on a peppercorn rent. It has since been renovated by local youngsters and opens Tuesday and Thursday nights to offer courses, advice and activities, which recently included a trip to Symonds Yat in the Wye Valley.

There are plans to transform Denley's office into a internet cafe, build a BMX track, offer help to young mothers and run accredited courses.

Each add-on project is funded locally which is why Denley works hard to foster the partnership spirit. "I'm in the process of getting a constitution together and appointing local people on to a management council."

Where the Youth Works programmes have been established, juvenile arrests and cautions have fallen by up to 70 per cent and car crime by up to 40 per cent. A twelfth programme is due to start in West Cumbria.

Youth Works national development manager Edwin Lewis adds: "We don't just focus on crime but if kids are socially excluded it is likely they will turn to crime."

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