Oxford United in the Community were honoured to be invited as keynote speakers during Thames Valley Police’s Neighbourhood Conference held at the Kassam Stadium this month.
Attended by more than 150 senior police officials, PCSOs and local representatives, the conference explored how positive engagement can help prevent and reduce crime and disorder and improve feelings of security in Thames Valley communities.
This year’s conference theme was Building Trust Through Engagement.
Social Inclusion Lead Mark Thomas and Lead Community Coach Rob Porter took to the stage to deliver a 40-minute presentation which considered how the power of football can positively influence the lives of vulnerable members of society.
It featured input from Thames Valley Police PCSOs already connected to Oxford United in the Community’s work through our existing partnership delivering Premier League Kicks – a free youth engagement designed to reduce anti-social behaviour in high-need areas.
Members of audience also learnt how Oxford United in the Community’s programmes tackle important issues such as enhancing local playing provisions, loneliness, community integration and re-offending.
Mark said: “We’re really grateful to Thames Valley Police for the opportunity to talk in great detail to staff about our work and how we use football as a lever to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities.
“Historically, our work has centred around holiday camp delivery and creating lasting memories for young supporters by enhancing their matchday experience.
“And while those two elements remain a core part of our operation, our social impact work today is far greater. The Oxford United badge holds a tremendous power to positively engage vulnerable members of society at risk of slipping into anti-social behaviour routines.
“Through our existing partnership with Thames Valley Police, it is our aim to break down barriers officers might face speaking to individuals by using football as an ice-breaker activity where common ground can be established.
“Our team has been really encouraged by the initial positive outcomes of programmes that are specifically delivered to reduce anti-social behaviour in Oxfordshire’s high-need areas.
“Communicating this and details of our other social-impact projects to those in attendance was a great way of reaffirming our relationship with Thames Valley Police who we again thank for their hospitality.”
Neighbourhood Policing Chief Inspector, Stewart Codling added: “The Neighbourhood Policing Conference was a great opportunity to bring partners together to discuss the successes of partnership working and all the great projects taking place to support the public, specifically diverting young people away from a life of crime.
“We are so grateful to Oxford United in the Community for their input on the day and I am sure all the attendees benefitted from hearing their experience first-hand. We hope to continue the collaboration and great work already taking place to engage with our communities.”
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