A £400,000 pot for projects to tackle serious violence and exploitation involving young people in Bedfordshire is now accepting bids for funding.
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) has been established to create a network of different agencies and groups to tackle the root causes of things like gang membership.
Community groups are being encouraged to bid for funding for initiatives worth up to £20,000 which can work with young people and divert them away from violence.
Kimberley Lamb, head of the VERU, said: “Empowering grassroots communities and projects to help us protect young people from falling victim to criminal exploitation by organised crime is my absolute driving focus for this new unit.
“I want everyone to play their part in helping us tackle this, and I am delighted to be working with established partners such as the community safety partnerships and youth offending service.
“But I want to ensure that charities and grassroots groups also have a big say around the table in terms of how we tackle this.
“If you have an idea you think could engage young people and help us put an end to violence and exploitation, we would love to hear from you.”
The VERU has already agreed to give a range of different statutory agencies funding to deliver work in this area.
The grants will be awarded to the county’s three community safety partnerships, youth offending services, education and health providers.
Community funding bids can bid for between £5,000 and £15,000 for projects that will benefit a single area.
Projects that would run countywide are eligible to bid for up to £20,000.
Projects must address the key aims and objectives of the VERU.
They need to educate and prevent young people from getting involved in serious violence, increase engagement and resilience to violence among hard to reach and marginalised communities and change attitudes and perceptions around violence and victims of crime.
The deadline for applications is Sunday, November 10, with decisions to be made by Friday, November 15. All the projects must be delivered by 31 March.
More information of the funding process is available on the website of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, whose office is supporting the bidding process.