The DIVERT Lancashire programme that works with 18 to 25-year-olds in police custody has been launched with Preston North End Community and Education Trust.
PNECET are one of seven football community trusts in Lancashire that will deliver the programme, with each club represented by their own Custody Intervention Coach.
Coaches will work with young people in police custody, providing them with the chance to make positive life changes with the provision of training and employment opportunities, which aim to reduce the risk of them reoffending.
DIVERT has previously been delivered in a number of other policy custody suites nationwide, including in London where the programme has successfully helped to decrease reoffending rates.
The programme has now been brought to Lancashire with the first port of call the custody suite at Preston Police Station, while delivery will also be introduced in custody suites at Blackburn, Blackpool and Lancaster over the coming months.
Olivia Preston, the Trust’s own Custody Intervention Coach, spoke of the importance of the Trust being involved in the programme, particularly with the launch taking place in Preston.
She said: “The DIVERT programme will work with 18 to 25-year-olds in the Preston area and we work towards training and employment for our clients.
“We initially engage with them in Preston Custody Suite. If they want to engage on the programme, I can meet them in the community the day after and act as their continued support, aiming to highlight their needs and behaviours first and then we will progress onto training and employment.
“It’s really important that Preston North End are involved. We can use the power of the badge, especially with the younger community as we are working with 18 to 25-year-olds.
“Football is a huge thing and I feel that a lot of people will engage with it a lot better, especially when we approach the clients in custody, regardless of whether they like football or not – they can see that we’re wearing the badge and it’s an initial icebreaker.”
Dave Clarke, DIVERT manager for Lancashire, explained that the age bracket of clients whom can be engaged on the programme is designed to capture people at a time in their life when they are ready to make lifestyle changes.
He said: “The unique selling point of the programme is that we are catching people at what we call a ‘teachable moment’; a moment in their lives where they are looking to change their behaviours.
“Olivia’s role will be engaging with people in the custody environment and then transitioning that support into the community and into the community activities that we and Preston North End can facilitate.
“From our perspective, the young people we work with will be familiar with the local football club, which of course is Preston North End, who have a fabulous reputation locally. There’s a very big draw from the client’s point of view in terms of collaborating with the football club.
“Preston North End have a range of services and activities that they can engage those young people with and we hope that will improve the outcomes that are delivered by the service.”
Olivia is of the belief that with Preston North End and six other Lancashire football clubs – Accrington Stanley, AFC Fylde, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Fleetwood Town and Morecambe – employers can provide further opportunities for ex-offenders.
“A lot of employers are trying to employ ex-offenders. The fact that football clubs which are so big and so well-known are getting involved, that’s informing the public, informing people who need the support.
“The fact that a football club is involved, they [the client] have got a lot of scope within that club, and they may get opportunities within that club because there’s a lot going on, so it is an initial excitement.”
Please note that despite the cancellation of several PNECET programmes until further notice because of the current Coronavirus situation, the DIVERT programme is currently continuing to run as normal. Should this change, updates will be provided on the Trust’s social media channels.
For more information about the DIVERT programme, contact Custody Intervention Coach Olivia Preston on Olivia.Preston@pne.com.