Bedford soccer school among 40 projects to share £400k grants from PCC

Players at Bruno's Brazilian Soccer School
Players at Bruno's Brazilian Soccer School

Bruno’s Brazilian Soccer School in Bedford is among 40 projects to benefit from PCC Kathryn Holloway’s £400,000 grant to tackle the problem of young people’s involvement in gang, gun and knife crime.

The funding comes from the new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).

The ethos at Bruno’s Brazilian Soccer School is to make sport available and affordable for anyone from any background.

“We also believe that sports can be a vital tool to educate young people,” explained co-founder, Bruno Dos Santos Gracias.

“The funding from the police has meant a lot to our organisation as we now have the means to provide affordable sports activities for anyone from any background.

“Having the backing and support from Beds Police means we can also educate young people on the dangers of antisocial behaviour and crime activities.”

The funding marks a flagship intervention by the VERU, an initiative drawing together the police, health, local authorities, youth offending services and grassroots groups from across the county.

“I’m delighted that these first grants from the VERU genuinely represent the voices of our communities and what they themselves feel will be most effective to divert their own young people away from involvement in gangs, guns, drug dealing and knife carrying,” said the Commissioner.

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway

“It’s no good sitting in ivory towers and dictating what will work. Only those living in hotspots for serious youth violence understand, from close up, what is most likely to reach these young people and at what stage.”

The funded projects include the first to be financed under the PCC’s new Early Pathways initiative, aiming to deliver early intervention to children aged 10-13.

“There isn’t a police force, PCC or council in the country who cannot be aware of the persuasive evidence around the impact of so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences on children, including the impact of drug and alcohol addiction and Domestic Abuse in their homes and the dwindling life chances they create, including vulnerability to involvement in crime and gangs,” said PCC Holloway.

“I’ve been determined to intervene earlier than has usually been the case in the past, with our partners, to get this message across to 10 to 13-year-olds and these are the first commissions under the Early Pathways banner for this age group.”

Bedfordshire is one of 18 police force areas given a grant by the Home Office for a violence reduction unit.

This mirrors the successful public health approach that has been taken to tackling violent crime in Scotland.

Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, the national lead for serious youth violence, said: “I am so impressed by the list of projects and partners who are supporting the VERU’s work.

“The only way we are going to achieve a sustained reduction in serious youth violence is by working together to provide opportunities for our young people and offer them a different path.

“I hope that this is just the start of a journey which can transform the lives of young people living in communities across Bedfordshire.”

Around half of the projects are being delivered by charities, social enterprises or grassroots groups. The VERU is also funding projects run by statutory services such as the county’s youth offending teams and community safety partnerships.

The Home Office has already set aside another £880,000 for the VERU to continue until April 2021, subject to ministerial approval of the PCC’s spending plans.

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said, “This funding will help local groups, charities and grassroots organisations working alongside the youth offending services and community safety partnerships to reduce serious youth violence in our county.

“The VERU brings together the police, local councils, community leaders and other key partners so we can work as effectively as possible to understand the root cause of violence, and tackle it together.”

A list of Bedford-based projects includes:

Bedford Borough Community Safety Partnership

Funding will help create a shared community hub which will benefit other agencies and the wider public in the Midland Road area of Bedford

Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Local Safeguarding Children Board

Funding for Alter Ego to perform theatre productions across schools in both areas raising awareness of serious violence and criminal exploitation

Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities

A youth programme where participants will be encouraged to explore their thoughts around violence and anti-social behaviour involving vulnerable young people, as well as improving participants’ communication skills

Bedfordshire Youth Offending Service

Deliver a ‘Skills Mill’ programme to give young people employment skills and help them find work

Bruno’s Brazilian Soccer School

The Unite to Learn and Play project combines classroom based lessons on English and Maths, employment skills as well as football training and games. Also working with local businesses to offer work experience and potential job opportunities to those enrolled on the programme. Funded through a separate grant.

Inspiring People

Working with young people in Bedford to teach them about things like employment skills and running a business, as well as creative skills such as music, TV and radio production

Mary Seacole Housing Association

Young people will learn to create radio shows, podcasts and other digital media products as well as carry out broadcast interviews with senior figures in Bedfordshire. Delivered in partnership with Jamrock Media


Its Change the Narrative project will be used to provide media training, mentoring and development to young people in Bedford. The training will incorporate key aspects of media including photography, videography and video editing. The trainees will work together in teams to create video content geared towards changing mindsets and informing young people of the dangers of a life of violence and other opportunities for success outside of crime and violence. Funded through a separate grant

One Stop Advice & Training Centre

Parenting programme to help mentor parents and carers to put measures in place to manage boundaries, increase confidence and encourage improvement in behaviour, in order to protect their children from serious youth violence and exploitation

One Stop Advice & Training Centre

Workshop delivered across primary schools to talk about knife crime. Will be using victims of knife crime to speak with the children on the impact to their lives. Funding awarded through a separate grant


This project is working with ethnic minority families, especially from the Somali community, and particularly young people by diverting them away from serious violence, offending and re-offending through sports activities, leisure activities and group workshops. Funding awarded through a separate grant

Reactiv8 The Nation

Will work with excluded children across Bedfordshire to provide mentoring and discipline through programmes such as boxing

Samsons Academy Charity Bedford

Offering gym-based work experience to young people aged between 16 and 24 who are not in education, employment or training

St Giles Trust

St Giles’ SOS+ Project delivers early intervention work in educational and community settings, through preventative sessions on violence, vulnerability and exploitation. They will deliver sessions in schools across Bedfordshire to demystify gang culture, county lines drug running, and educating children and young people about the harsh realities of knife crime, gang violence and child criminal exploitation.

Stepping Stones

Working with young women and girls in Luton affected by gangs and county lines. They will also provide training and support to practitioners on how best to respond to girls affected by these issues

The Flavasum Trust

‘Boy X’ interactive anti-knife crime theatre production in schools for years eight and nine. The audiences can interact with the play and change the outcome depending on their discussions and decisions

Youth Voices

Weekly informal drop-in sessions for young people in Bedford to discuss issues that matter to them, as well as developing media products such as podcasts

Ten alternative education provisions will produce a creative project with their students with an anti-knife crime theme

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