CASTLEFORD’s youngsters will be targeted as part of a £90,000 scheme to crack down on binge and underage drinking.
The two-year Positive Choices project is part of a national initiative led by Baroness Helen Newlove, government champion for safe and active communities, who launched the scheme this week in ten areas across England.
Wakefield Together Partnership – which works with police, schools, community groups and the council to improve communities – will pilot the scheme in Castleford due to its high levels of anti-social behaviour.
Peter Box, chairman of the partnership and leader of the council, said: “This funding is good news for the district. With the help of this money and through effective partnership working, we can make a real difference to the negative effects alcohol has on our communities.”
The Positive Choices project will bring together proven alcohol intervention work and activities for young people aged 11 to 18 and work with them to achieve a long-term, measurable impact on the way they perceive, experience and consume alcohol.
The project aims to reduce the number of anti-social behaviour incidents related to alcohol consumption and cut A&E admissions to local hospitals.
The partnership will also work with Loft nightclub at Glass Houghton’s Xscape leisure complex by hosting ten alcohol-free discos over the course of the scheme.
Richard Sykes, managing director of the Loft, said: “We’ve had three events like this in the past and every one has gone without incident.
“They’ve been very well-received and it’s nice to invite children into an adult environment and allow them to experience the current dance scene without having to sneak around town getting into places without ID and exposing them to alcohol.”
Baroness Newlove – whose husband Gary was kicked to death by a gang of youths outside his home in 2007 – set out the importance of tackling the damage associated with problem drinking in a recent report and offered community leaders the chance to put in a bid to a £1m pot of cash.
She visited Cutsyke Community Centre last year while on a nationwide tour in her role as ambassador against anti-social behaviour. She had been working closely with members of Cutsyke Community Group to encourage community activism and tackle neighbourhood crime.
She said: “I have always believed there is a seam of active citizens prepared and willing to work at creating safer, happier communities together with the agencies there to help them.
“This response proves it. We shall mine these wonderful examples of fresh ideas and local solutions to tackle alcohol misuse and the crime and blight that follows.
“In two years these areas will be transformed. I intend to support them all the way and ensure others follow their trail blazing progress.”
The scheme is expected to work with 600 youngsters over the two-year period.