Liverpool dance company Movema have teamed up with a local youth and community centre to tackle violent crime.
In November 2019, Movema secured a grant from Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership’s (VRP) sport-sector fund, coordinated by public health charity Healthy Stadia, to extend their youth outreach programme “Unlock the Box”. The project provides preventative activities to young people in areas of high risk to violent crime such as knife and gang culture.
VRPs are designed to bring a wide range of partners, including the police, local authorities, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key stakeholders together to adopt a public health approach to tackling serious violence. The Merseyside VRP will focus on reducing crime by preventing children and young people from entering into criminal activities in the first place.
Superintendent Mark Wiggins from Merseyside Police, and Head of VRP Operators, said “We know that out there on the streets knife crime is rising. Between January and June 2015 we were recording an average of 44 offences of knife crime a month. The current average volume per month, based on the January to June picture, is 97. Some of that is about more accurate data, but that doesn’t account for the rates more than doubling in the past five years.
“You will hear when you speak to people that simply, austerity and budget cuts has meant, that simple youth work on the streets of not just Merseyside but all the major cities, has reduced considerably, and some of that has undoubtedly contributed to the increase in serious violence.”
With this new grant in place, Movema have now established a partnership with Unity Youth and Community Centre based in the middle of the Lodge Lane community of Toxteth; a neighbourhood that experienced a serious knife crime incident between teens earlier on in the year.
Working with the Unity, Movema have now developed shared goals for the local youth population and the wider community.
The goals include the increase the integration between Romani and Czech young people and the local BAME community through diverse dance style and conversations about culture, as well as providing a safe place for young people to practice yoga and learn how yoga techniques of breath, stillness and healing postures can support their physical and mental health.
Movema will also be using the grant funding to deliver training for community centre staff, youth workers and older youths interested in developing dance and leadership skills. This training will give the learners the confidence and skills to deliver diverse dance activities once the project funded has ended.
Dr Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of Healthy Stadia said: “We were extremely impressed with Movema’s proposal, in particular the concept of using dance as a medium for developing leadership skills and sensitising young people to issues of diversity. Movema’s World in a Box not only gets young people more physically active, but is a brilliant example of breaking down barriers and educating young people about key themes such as respect, inclusivity, mental health and wellbeing.”
The training will be based on Movema’s innovative education resource “World in a Box”, designed to provide a non-dancer the tools to lead communities through exciting dance and cultural experiences.
Unity Youth Centre Coordinator, Julie Smith, said “It has been great to see the young people express themselves through dance. The unity attracts a lot of young people from different communities, and this project has supported young people interacting with each other by sharing their own cultural dance styles.”
This public health approach to reducing violent crime has produced stunning results across the world, with Glasgow reducing murders by 60% in a decade and Cali in Colombia, a city blighted by violence linked to poverty and ultra-powerful drug cartels, halving its murder rate in 13 years.
You can keep up to date with all Movema’s projects and classes at www.movema.co.uk