A new fund of £1.6m will be channelled into tackling violent crime over the next six months with half of the cash earmarked to go directly to organisations needing support for their own project to end the problem.
Money for the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit has come from the Government and is a response to the national problem of knife crime, though the project is aimed at reducing all kinds of violence.
Sheffield has experienced significant problems with knife attacks and killings, with other communities also affected by violence.
A stipulation has been set that the money has to be used by the end of March next year and that should see the first two stages of work by professionals completed, to map the areas affected by violence and identify those involved along with drawing up a strategy of how to prevent problems or get those already mixed up with violence out of that environment.
Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has been given the fund and he is hopeful the Government will continue funding after March because such work inevitably has to be a long-term commitment.
Parallel to that will be a new grants scheme, with payments of up to £20,000 available to finance projects coming from within communities – with the expectation that those most directly affected by violence will have good ideas for ways to resolve or prevent problems.
The work in South Yorkshire will use a successful project in Glasgow as its model, but where the Scottish project had an objective of bringing results over a decade, it is hoped the local scheme will pay dividends much quicker, by cherry-picking the elements of the project in that city which worked best.
Dr Billings said: “In recent years, violent behaviour has had a devastating impact on too many lives in South Yorkshire.
"It has left families grieving. It has made many young people anxious and some communities fearful.
"I believe the Violence Reduction Unit will have a significant impact in reducing violence, not least because it brings so many partners together absolutely determined to make a lasting difference.
"The Violence Reduction Fund enables organisations to work with us to keep young people in particular away from violence in the first place or to get offenders away from violence if they want to turn their lives around.
"I invite organisations working with young people, or supporting people with substance or alcohol issues, or with those involved in the criminal justice system at any stage to contact us.
“This funding offers an opportunity for groups and organisations to leave a legacy for future generations and establish a structure to continue their work.
“We need the help of the voluntary and third sector organisations to help us identify the root causes of violence by identifying the issues young people face today and addressing them before they result in violence.”
Rachel Staniforth has been appointed head of the unit and said: “Our communities know what they need and what they don’t have enough of.
“The Violence Reduction Fund gives community organisations the opportunity to start to implement some of that – maybe by strengthening existing offers or by creating something different.
“The causes of violence are wide ranging and as such we would love to see a broad range of applications in to the fund.”
Organisations wanting to apply for funding have until the end of October to apply, with decisions expected by mid-November.
Details on funding are available at http://www.southyorkshireviolencereductionunit.com/violence-reduction-fund/