The Community Approach Trust is doing vital work with child and youth offenders to reduce the risk of re-offending.
The trust is an innovative partnership between the police, youth workers, social workers and mentors. Set up in 1993, Community Approach identifies at-risk rangatahi early, ideally before they end up in court. The trust then offers essential support and mentoring to young people and families facing crises.
And the programme works. According to Adam Nock, a police officer and Youth Project Worker, plenty of evidence demonstrates the impact on the streets. ‘The most recent independent evaluation of our programme found that 92% of participants stopped re-offending during their engagement with us,’ Adam says. He adds that even better, 100% had not re-offended six months after finishing the programme.
Located at Avondale Police Centre, Community Approach covers a range of projects. There’s a community and youth programme. This initiative is aimed at youths aged 14-17. Over 22 sessions, young people engage in group or individual activities and mentoring sessions.
The year-long youth mentoring programme operates weekly and offers individual and group sessions. Geared towards rangatahi aged 14-17, it provides practical life skills training, mentoring, challenging experiences and relationship-building exercises.
There are also regular wilderness and adventure camps. These camps, lasting from 2 to 5 days, take place outside the Auckland region. Centred around outdoor activities, the camps challenge and inspire participants.
Community Approach is a charitable organisation, and funding comes from various providers. However, the demand for Community Approach's services is high, and the need is great. Funding of $10,000 from the Your West Support Fund has had a considerable impact.
‘The funding has gone towards the salaries of our two youth mentors,’ explains Adam. He adds that it’s provided much-needed certainty and helped with staff retention.
‘The key to much of our success has been establishing working relationships based on trust, aroha and commitment,’ says Adam. ‘And it’s not just about relationships with the young people. It’s also about building relationships with the communities that we work within,’ he adds. Adam says that the youth mentors do much of that relationship-building.
Youth crime continues to be a major concern for the communities of The West. And this programme is needed more than ever.
Adam says early intervention gives the young person and their families the best chance of success. ‘It gives them the best opportunity of remaining or returning to school, steering clear of the gangs and not re-offending,’ he advises.
It also means the rangatahi are more likely to start contributing positively to communities in The West.
Check out the Community Approach website for more information on this vital programme.