Changing Lives in Harlow
Awareness and Prevention
Changing Lives Community Services is a multi-award winning organisation, who specialises in early intervention and prevention. They aim to raise children and young people’s awareness about the dangers of gangs, knife crime and drugs; helping to prevent them from becoming involved in criminal activity.
Active Essex worked with Changing Lives throughout their last strategy ‘Changing One Million Lives’ and has since strengthened this relationship further in the past year. The Active Essex Foundation collaborated with Harlow Youth Offending Services and Changing Lives Community Services to codesign a programme, whereby young children at risk of continuing to engage in criminal activity, can find the motivation/ inspiration to make better choices.
The programme encourages young people to engage in sports and activities, to keep them focused and show the potential for life outside of gangs. The two-hour sessions consist of sporting activities, music and drama workshops, plus an hour of mentoring and behavioural workshops provided by Essex Police to raise awareness about the dangers of gangs. Referrals come from schools, local authorities, social services and Essex Police, and vulnerable children most at risk are collected by a minibus and brought to the sessions.
As Changing Lives Community Services is a locally trusted organisation within the community in Harlow, they were able to gain the trust and respect of the young people referred into their programme. The sessions aim to teach, mentor and educate the participants about the consequences of violence, knives and gang related activity linked to their personal choices and behaviour. Further support includes work experience, as well as sport and social opportunities that may lead to paid employment in the long term. Due to this offer, a high percentage of the attendees committed to the entire programme.