Day of action aims to inspire young people away from a life of crime

Coordinated by the Plymouth Howard League Student Society, the open event was designed to increase the educational and employment aspirations of youngsters from deprived backgrounds.

Held at Efford Youth and Community Centre, in partnership with Plymouth City Council Youth Services, it was designed to target those at risk or already involved in the criminal justice system, with parts of Efford categorised as areas of high deprivation.

The event included an employability skills workshop, run by one of the University's careers advisers, as well as a variety of other interactive activities to raise young people's aspirations towards work and education.

Dr Patricia Gray, Associate Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Plymouth University, said: “This day of action represented a fantastic opportunity for students to take the skills they have learnt out of the classroom and into the local community. By engaging in this way, they are gaining invaluable experience that will hopefully serve them well for the rest of their studies and into their future careers. It also gives them a chance to see the ways their knowledge and expertise might have a real and positive impact on people’s lives.”

Councillor Nicky Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Plymouth City Council, said: “Our Youth Service plays an important role in supporting young people outside of the education system with activities and opportunities to help keep them active and occupied. Part of that work is to help raise the aspirations of our young people by encouraging their talents and offering information which helps set them on the right path in life. This event with the Howard League Student Society sounds like the perfect recipe of students showing perhaps disillusioned young people what is possible with some hard work and dedication.”

Most universities across the country have a Howard League Student Society, and the Plymouth group was founded in 2011 within the School of Law.

It is linked to the National Howard League, which is involved in various campaigns to reform the penal policy and practice in the UK, particularly the use of custody for both adults and young people.

Most members of the Plymouth group are undergraduates on the BSc (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies programme, with the society giving them the opportunity to apply skills learnt in the classroom.

In Plymouth, the society organises talks, speakers and visits around these issues, and is also engaged in a project providing support to the families of prisoners, and another through which they work with vulnerable young people.

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