Yesterday, council leader Arooj Shah and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester visited the Violence Reduction Unit’s (VRU’s) community-led programme in Oldham.
The programme, which involves groups including the Fatima Women’s Association, Greenhill Community Sports and Recreation Club, Chai Ladies and Ghazali Trust, aims to prevent young people from becoming involved in serious violence and other crimes.
Mentoring, youth work, and sports programmes are provided for young people at risk of or vulnerable to serious youth violence and exploitation, along with programmes that empower young women, and projects that engage young people and their parents.
Set up in July 2022, the programme works with young people aged between 10 and 25, and their families, to develop projects to address the underlying causes of violence and build aspirations and opportunities.
A new community film that showcases an inspirational mother and social worker from Oldham also premiered at the event yesterday and can be watched here.
Councillor Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “Reducing violence and making sure our young people feel safe is a priority for me, Oldham Council, and everyone that works to make Oldham the best place it can be.
“I’m really proud this community-led programme is having a positive impact on the lives of people and that so many Oldhamers are engaging with it.
“I’d also like to congratulate the filmmakers and its stars for showcasing the inspirational work that’s taking place in Oldham.”
Mrs Akhtar, who stars in the film, said: “I started attending Roundthorn Chai Ladies group, part of the FocusTrust, a couple of years ago. It has made a huge impact on my life, my daughters and other mums, and their young children who attend the group. It boosts your confidence, mental health, and wellbeing.
“The Chai group has many projects, including the aunty-crime project, which has been amazing for myself and my children. We have learned so much about crime awareness and crime prevention and we hope to make a difference to young people and our community.
“Chai provides a safe environment for mothers who can express themselves, it is vital for the community, and I am proud to be a part of this group, the work we complete, and the outcomes we achieve.”
In July 2022, four place-based organisations in Oldham were awarded funding from the VRU and formed an alliance. Fatima Women’s Association empower disadvantaged women, young people, and children in order to improve their quality of life; Greenhill Community Sports and Recreation Club help to bring the community together through sports and activity; CHAI Ladies raises awareness of women’s wellbeing to ensure they are equipped to positively contribute to their communities and the lives of their children, and Ghazali Trust (the lead organisation) who enable young people to be the best they can be through sports, education, arts, and community participation.
During the visit, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We know that the knowledge of how to deal with violence in any community lies within the community, so it is vitally important for us to work together.
“I was here in October and saw the strength of the partnership and the impact the programme is having on young people and families in Oldham. Since my last visit, the partners have expanded their reach and networks and are now supporting even more people.
“The programme in Oldham is a fantastic example of how strong partnerships led by the community can positively impact the lives of many people.”
Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice, and fire, said: “This is my first visit to the Oldham community-led programme and I am very impressed at the strength of the alliance and the range of ways they’re using to reach people in Oldham.
“We know women have a huge influence on what happens in families and communities, so much of the work the Oldham alliance do empowers and offers new opportunities to women and girls, helping to reduce violence and improve safety.
“I am looking forward to seeing how this work progresses and the change it will create.”
To find out more about the work of the VRU’s community-led approach to violence reduction, visit Community-Led Approach to Violence Reduction – Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (gmvru.co.uk) and follow @gm_vru on Twitter and Instagram.