The Leeds based charity stopping young children turning to a life of crime

Charity founder Lutel James explains why it is so important young people are guided down the right path in life.
Charity founder Lutel James explains why it is so important young people are guided down the right path in life.
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More than 800 children a week walk through the doors of the Chapletown Youth Development Centre (CYDC) as supporters and volunteers work around the clock to stop young people being drawn into criminality.

As the Yorkshire Post reveals children as young as five have been suspected of rape, charity founder Lutel James explains why it is so important young people are guided down the right path in life.

"It is OK just telling children to come away from gang affiliation, but what support are people actually giving them?" he asks.

"For us it is about reaching out to the kids that are hard to reach and easy to ignore for others.

"We see over 800 children a week and they range from four-years-old, all the way up to 18 and beyond.

"You have got to look at them holistically and see them through the whole progression range. When there is no transition in place there is no wonder kids fall apart.

"We are with the every step of the way and consistency is the key, as is engagement.

"People can have all the ideas in the world, but if you haven't got engagement, there is no point."

Read more: NSPCC reveal shocking number of online child sex crimes in West Yorkshire
The youth organisation is currently running a three-year programme called GANG UK - Guiding a New Generation, which uses sport, mentoring and training opportunities to help young people flourish in society.

Its football academy will offer a comprehensive training package and studies for those aged 16 and over.

Around 60 children will also be put through a leadership programme giving them the opportunity to gain qualifications.

Mr James explains that while some people will just see a 90 minute football session, in reality during that time the children will be encouraged and open up about the challenges they are facing.

Mr James said: "For us it isn't just about ticking boxes, it is about putting on programmes and offering services that make children want to change.

"It's less about the political agenda and more about having a proven track record and we have that.

"We have had children that have gone on to get qualifications and make a success of themselves.

Read more: Boys across Yorkshire as young as 12 in revenge porn - ‘Law is letting victims down’
"We have adults that used the service before that are now bringing their own children here and it is rewarding for all the volunteers who work so hard."

Launched 20 years ago, CYDC now has 10 staff part-time and more than 80 volunteers working around the clock.

Mr James said: "They are the people who make things happen for these kids.

"They are the ones who offer support, advice and guidance and assess each individual and each situation based on their needs

“We have young people that don’t have involvement in criminality, people who are on the periphery and also people that are gang affiliated who just want a way out. It’s allowing them the support to get off the streets."

Mr James also speaks of the importance of family being involved

"We welcome parents, grandparents and all family members to become a part of what we have going on here.

"The ultimate aim is to support children to make good choices in life."