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Innovate to Grow: First projects benefit from new scheme


28 September 2022

27/09/2022: The first two successful organisations to receive funding via a new scheme from North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Andy Dunbobbin to help tackle crime have been announced today.

RASASC NW (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre North Wales), and young people’s organisation, Youth Shedz, applied for funding from the Innovate to Grow initiative, which was unveiled by the PCC in April 2022 to target and invest in projects dealing with the root causes of crime across North Wales – especially ones that offer new and innovative ideas of preventing and tackling wrongdoing.

RASASC NW’s support and therapy reduces and alleviates the short- and long-term effects of sexual abuse in North Wales. Based in Bangor, they work with survivors to find a way to cope with their experience, and move forward into recovery, increasing their resilience and improving their lives and future prospects.

Referrals have been increasing steadily for many years, and for 2021-22 they were the highest the centre has ever received in its nearly 40-year history.  In response to increasing referral rates, increased complex mental health needs and rising awareness, RASASC NW’s staffing and services have grown accordingly to meet both organisational and survivors’ needs. 

The funding received by RASASC NW from Innovate to Grow will enable the organisation to continue to deliver specialist therapeutic support and intervention to children and young people in North Wales who have experienced any form of child sexual abuse, sexual abuse and/or rape.

Youth Shedz was established in 2018 and now has six established sheds (which includes a regular outreach project), in towns across North Wales, such as Denbigh, Kinmel Bay, and most recently Holyhead, with about 50 ‘shedders’ across North Wales. A Youth Shed in a town significantly reduces the amount of anti-social behaviour as it provides somewhere for young people to hang out and something for them to do. No young person is excluded, and Youth Shedz aims to reach the young people who may be less likely to engage with mainstream services.

In November 2021, Youth Shedz helped establish its first fully licensed partnership Youth Shed at Llysfaen with Llysfaen Football Association. This model of directly running already established Youth Shedz, and then helping other charities or partners to set up their own new licensed Shed, is one that the organisation hopes will enable it to continue growing. The idea to develop a toolkit model follows a successful partnership approach with Abergele Community Action and the setting up of the Abergele Youth Shed.  The aim of the toolkit is to share the principles and ethos of Youth Shedz Cymru, but to allow the project to grow organically to suit the young people and community – a real co-development approach.

Youth Shedz plans to use the funding from Innovate to Grow to help set up three new licensed Youth Shedz across North Wales, supporting at least five young people once a week at each location. Feedback on the success of the project and how it has benefited the young people involved will be gathered from local police, schools, and housing associations. In the long term, the aim is for the young people to be helped to get full- and part-time jobs, or places at college or in apprenticeships. 

The Innovate to Grow funding initiative complements the priorities within the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan, as well as his Community Oriented Police Service (COPS) approach to serve all communities across North Wales. Examples of projects eligible for Innovate to Grow support include those covering youth services, early intervention, and adverse childhood experiences; drug, alcohol and substance misuse services; and organisations working to combat domestic abuse, sexual violence, and violence against women and girls. The important thing is that they offer new and innovative ways of solving the problems that can often lead to criminal behaviour.

Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales commented: “I am hugely excited to announce the first two funding awards to be made as part of the Innovate to Grow initiative and I would like to congratulate Youth Shedz and RASASC NW on their success.

“I am determined to help support exciting, innovative and rewarding projects to help tackle crime across the region. To do this, we need to invest in the community-level projects that are thinking and acting in new and novel ways to stop crime where it starts. Both Youth Shedz and RASASC NW put forward strong and ambitious proposals around how they wish to make a difference and strengthen the communities they work in.

“My Police and Crime Plan commits to delivering safer neighbourhoods in North Wales, to supporting victims and communities, and to ensuring a fair and effective criminal justice system for all. I’d encourage any organisation that thinks they fit the criteria of Innovate to Grow to get in touch and apply, so that they can act with us to build on their good work and deliver the safer and more secure neighbourhoods we all wish to see.”

Fflur Emlyn, Head of Operations, RASASC NW said: “RASASC NW would like to thank the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the additional funding provided by the Innovate to Grow fund, which ensures that RASASC NW can continue to deliver specialist therapeutic support and counselling to children and young people in North Wales who have experienced child sexual abuse.

“Referrals to the centre are at an alarming number and are continuing to grow on a weekly basis. This is even more significant in our children’s service, not only have our children and young people rates almost doubled in comparison to the previous year, but children accessing our service are presenting with more complex mental health needs and safeguarding issues, requiring additional support and intervention.

“This fund will contribute to the assurance that despite these challenges RASASC NW services continue to meet the needs of survivors/victims in North Wales”

Scott Jenkinson, Founder of Youth Shedz said: “We are extremely grateful for this funding as it will allow us to develop the idea locally across North Wales in areas where there is a real interest in planting a Shed. Our vision is ‘A Youth Shed in EVERY town’ and already, we have interest growing along the North Wales Coast from Holyhead to Flint/Buckley, and beyond into Merseyside, and down into parts of South Wales. Working alongside the Police has really strengthened our approach in the community, and we are extremely grateful for the working relationships in helping Youth Shedz grow.”

Andy Dunbobbin has allocated £100,000 to Innovate to Grow to support projects for up to one year, with the main focus being on innovation. A maximum of £5,000 is available for each project; however, should the project be delivered across two or more counties, a maximum of £10,000 will be offered.

To be eligible for funding, applicants must be not-for-profit and must complete a business plan. The plan must align to one of the Commissioner’s policing priorities. All organisations also need to ensure they have a Welsh Language, Equal Opportunities and Social Value policy in place and show how they will be integrating these areas into the delivery of the project.

For further information on the Innovate to Grow project and how to apply, visit the OPCC website.