Oxford United in the Community has partnered with Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (TV VRU) to help reduce reoffending among young people across Oxfordshire.
The charity will deliver outreach and support via a fully funded programme called DIVERT designed to reduce reoffending by young adults. It will include a member of the Oxford United in the Community team being based at Abingdon police station full-time.
DIVERT is a police custody intervention course funded by TV VRU and delivered via New Era Foundation and partners, that helps reduce reoffending in young adults aged 18 to 25 who are being detained having committed an offence.
The programme is currently delivered in several police custody suites across the Thames Valley and other areas including London and Lancashire.
As the official DIVERT delivery partner in Oxfordshire, Oxford United in the Community has appointed Joshua Wilson to the role of the Custody Intervention Coach.
Based at Abingdon Police Station, Joshua will work with young adults while they are in custody and support them into training, education or employment with organisations working with the DIVERT programme.
Chris Lowes, Head of Oxford United in the Community, said the charity’s partnership with TV VRU and New Era Foundation will help it achieve its goal of engaging with more people in Oxfordshire each year via its new ‘Oxfordshire – A Community United’ strategy.
“This is a significant step forward in the delivery of our new strategy and takes the type of positive impact work we are delivering to a new level,” he said.
“DIVERT provides an intelligent approach to help reduce reoffending in young people by using proven desistance factors that have reduced rates by almost a fifth since its launch. It has been proven that the power of a football club badge and a friendly face helps break down barriers in custody suites and helps garner trust and eventually positive change.
“Oxford United in the Community and Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit both have positive community engagement and helping people to fulfil their full potential at the heart of their core values. We are looking forward to working with TV VRU to facilitate the delivery of the DIVERT programme.
“Joshua’s work with young adults will help them establish a long-term development plan to guide them in fulfilling their goals concerning education, training and employment and help make a real difference across our county.”
Josh has joined a team of three coaches who are embedded within TV VRU’s main custody suites across the Thames Valley Police region spanning Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
He said: “This is an important programme that will make a real difference in our community. I am looking forward to delivering the DIVERT programme and inspiring change among young adults who require our support.
“Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that there is a demand for this specialist type of work. I am grateful to have the opportunity to play a small part in the fantastic work Oxford United in the Community provides to people across Oxfordshire. I am looking forward to seeing development in the young adults we work with.”
Rob Murray of New Era Foundation said: “I am thrilled to be working with Josh, Oxford United in the Community and Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit to improve the opportunities for young adults who find themselves on the wrong path.
“We are looking forward to building on the success and experience gained through the DIVERT Programme in London to reduce reoffending rates in Oxfordshire.”
Emma Tompkins from Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit added: “Josh and I have completed a tour of some of the departments in Oxfordshire and we have established an understanding of some young adults that may wish to take advantage of the DIVERT programme.
“Already, Josh has worked with clients across Oxfordshire by introducing them to some of the positive interventions that are available in the area and we are excited to see the positive changes young adults will make.”
DIVERT is a fully funded non-judgemental programme that is voluntary for young adults and independent of live police investigations and any subsequent criminal charges.
Oxford United in the Community is the football club’s official charity and helps inspire people to live happier and healthier lives in better connected communities using the power of football. Last year it engaged with over 2,500 people in Oxfordshire.
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