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Early intervention programme uses sport to divert Newham youth from crime

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 February 2020

City and East AM Unmesh Desai with Dost Centre youth work programme manager Marian Spiers during the visit to StreetGames. Picture: Unmesh Desai

City and East AM Unmesh Desai with Dost Centre youth work programme manager Marian Spiers during the visit to StreetGames. Picture: Unmesh Desai

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A charity is harnessing “the power of sport” to steer young people in Newham away from crime, London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai says.

City and East AM Mr Desai visited charity StreetGames, which is based at Newham Leisure Centre, on February 14 to see first-hand how its early intervention initiatives are helping some of the most vulnerable children.

StreetGames works in conjunction with the Dost Centre for Young Refugees and Migrants to deliver three diversionary "doorstep" sports activities at the centre for around 75 children and young adults each week.

The programme has attracted 225 new attendees so far this year.

Mr Desai said: "It was truly inspiring to visit StreetGames and see them working with some of the poorest and most disadvantaged young people in our community.

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"We often hear about how important early intervention is, but it was great to see it put into practice.

"Getting a grip on the rise in youth violence in our borough remains an urgent priority, so it has been very positive to see how StreetGames is working with the Dost Centre to harness the power of sport to offer a constructive and engaging diversion away from crime."

StreetGames previously received £120,000 from the City Hall's young Londoners fund to support its youth engagement work with refugees and migrants.

Last week, the Mayor of London announced an extra £55.5million to be targeted at tackling the complex causes of violent crime and to bolster the existing young Londoners fund and the violence reduction unit.

Mr Desai - who represents Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets and the City of London - said: "I am pleased City Hall is stepping in to invest in the future of the next generation, supporting hundreds of projects like StreetGames".

Since its inception in 2007, StreetGames has engaged more than half a million young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in sporting activities across the country.

The charity has also spearheaded initiatives such as Us Girls, which focuses on bringing more young women into sport, and Fit and Fed, which aims to tackle the issues of holiday-time hunger, inactivity and isolation amongst some of Britain's poorest children.

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