A summer campaign offering opportunities and activities to school leavers and young people most at risk of falling into crime and anti-social behaviour has been launched.
Under the #wmstrong campaign, teenagers will be given advice and information on a wide range of activities from employment training to sports and arts clubs.
There is even the chance to play football with coaches from Aston Villa and Birmingham City or gain batting and bowling tips from Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s experts.
Staff from First Class Legacy and WMCA at the campaign event in Birmingham High Street
The campaign is launched on social media #wmstrong, as school summer holidays begin across the region.
And staff were out in Dale End, Birmingham city centre, an area where there have been incidents of anti-social behaviour and disorder involving large groups of young people.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is driving the campaign working with partners including South and City College, youth engagement specialists from First Class Legacy and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Youth outreach workers from the First Class Legacy organisation were out offering information on a wide variety of activities including sports like cricket and boxing, training for a careers in web design or hospitality or even the chance to take part in one of many festivals and events this summer.
The aim is to engage more young people and help them move on to new education and employment opportunities. The WMCA has recently invested over £2m in new training provision to help young people gain skills in growth areas like digital, construction and professional services.
They were joined by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who said: “We are offering our young people a genuine opportunity to do something positive this summer – such as training for a job or playing football with coaches from Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
“We want to make sure they have the opportunities to succeed in life and avoid being drawn into violence and other criminal activities, and have put extra funding in to do just that.”
Young people were handed information cards or in conversation pointed towards courses or opportunities. Staff also gathered useful information on young people about their current status and attitudes to training.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “Seeing other organisations, like the Combined Authority, actively taking steps to reduce violent crime is very positive.
“As we approach the summer holidays it is vital that young people are given the opportunity to play sport, get involved with art and train for future employment.
“Like the Mayor, I am also launching large-scale initiatives to engage young people who live in crime hot spot areas over the summer holidays. We know we must all work together if we are to save lives and reduce crime.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “We are working with our partners to make a real difference to the lives of young people and with #wmstrong actively going out to target those who are hard to reach.
“Taking part in a training course or even just joining a club could open new doors and opportunities. I strongly urge young people looking for something to do this summer to see what’s on offer.”
First Class Legacy director Nathan Dennis said: “ #TeamFirstClassUK are proud to be working with WMCA and partners on this very important intitative. Young people in our region need to understand they belong and that there are lots of opportunities for them to be involved with.”
To find out more and sign up for summer opportunities visit: www.wmca.org.uk/wmstrong