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Article date - 10 June 2021
The workshop was delivered by the mentors of the CELLS Project, who utilise the lived experiences and testimonials of men and women who have been rehabilitated from offending, or who have themselves experienced being victims of crime.
The CELLS Project (Community, Education and Lifelong Learning Skills) is a charity commissioned by St Helens Borough Council’s Youth Justice Service and supported by Merseyside Police.
CELLS mentors have suffered the consequences of youth crime and violence themselves – giving students direct insight of those challenges and the outcomes – and are eager to deter others from making the same choices.
Workshops feature props such as a mobile prison cell and sweatbox simulation, giving participants a taste of prison life, but due to limited time the day’s sessions focused on the key issues facing young people today, including exploitation and county lines, in which vulnerable young people are coerced by gangs into drug trafficking.
Shaun Glanville, CELLS Project Manager said: “Our team recognises how it is often the choices children make during their formative years that decide the path they take through life and, tragically, many children are deprived of suitable role models and skills to make life-affirming decisions.
“The young people at Cowley really engaged with the workshop and learned a lot. And we were humbled by the interest from Councillor Bell who is really passionate about reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in St Helens Borough.”
The workshop was attended by Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities.
Cllr Bell said: “I was really keen to see the CELLS Project workshops in action, commissioned by our own Youth Justice Service and I’m grateful to the team and to Cowley for the opportunity. Engaging with young people about the crime and antisocial behaviour issues they might face at this crucial stage of their life is a key piece of the community safety puzzle.
“The team from CELLS have real lived experience and this is such a meaningful way of delivering support and information to young people. The students at Cowley were an absolute credit to the school in the way they engaged with the project.”
Cowley’s head teacher Russell Cormack added: “We would like to extend our thanks to the team from the CELLS Project for coming to Cowley to help deliver such an important message.
“They provided an excellent and really powerful presentation which I believe the students will have learned a lot from.”