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A wide ranging package of support, designed to tackle violence, is being rolled out in the Hillfields area of Coventry.

The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit, which is overseen by the Police and Crime Commissioner and partners from the region, is increasing the amount of early intervention in the neighbourhood.

The trial will see a range of initiatives put in place, with different organisations working together to improve safety in the area in the long term.

Funding will support a range of measures including a mentoring project in six local primary schools, where pupils will be taught what to do if they witness abuse, violence or bullying. The aim of the Mentoring in Violence Prevention scheme is to help young people feel they can take action to keep themselves and others safe.

There will also be support for nursery school children who might have witnessed violence.

One of the more eye-catching initiatives is a youth bus which will be parked up in the Hillfields village square and will provide seating, TVs and music for youngsters. The bus will also act as a base for youth workers who will spend time with young people in need of support. Their job will include ensuring that younger people can access mentoring if it is needed. They will also make sure they have somewhere safe to go and encourage them to take part in positive activities like sports or music, whilst also helping them to get into education, training or work.

A church and a Sikh gurdwara will also open their doors, outside of school hours, to provide a safe haven, activities for young people and access to youth workers.

Even local pharmacies have agreed to take part in the initiative. They will be helping to promote a healthy lifestyle programme and training for the community.

In addition to all of the preventative work that will take place, extra police patrols will be funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Violence Reduction Unit. This is aimed at reassuring the local community.

The West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Ashley Bertie said: “I’m delighted we can work with partners to try and help reduce violence in one of the more challenging parts of Coventry.

“The aim of this scheme is to tackle the root causes of crime.

“We know there are rising levels of violence across the West Midlands, but we also know we can’t arrest our way out of the problem.

“This initiative will help reduce violence by working with the local community and providing support before serious problems escalate.

“We are also increasing local police funding to ensure there are the resources in place to conduct patrols and offer reassurance.”

Cllr Becky Gittins, Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, at Coventry City Council, said: “We recently held a summit in Coventry where dozens of agencies and campaigners highlighted their efforts to reduce the criminal exploitation of young people.

“There are many positive examples of work to safeguard our young people and many projects that are being led by older teenagers and young adults.

“I hope this pilot can make an impact and we can learn lessons – it’s really important to allow young people to shape the way the whole issue of violent crime is addressed. Most notably, recognising the positive contributions that young people make to our city and providing them with the opportunities to thrive”

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