A Peer Mentor has been appointed to tackle anti-social behaviour in Stirling city centre by working with young people.
The new role aims to support a safer, welcoming and more resilient city by reducing anti-social behaviours and providing alternative positive pathways for potential offenders.
The post has been created and funded in partnership with Stirling Community Enterprise (SCE), Go Forth Stirling BID and Police Scotland with the majority of the funding achieved via a grant from the Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise Community Justice Fund.
Craig McIntosh was recently appointed as the first Peer Mentor and is currently focused on getting to know the local community and drawing up strategies of how best to deal with anti-social behaviour.
He said: “I see the role as a really good opportunity to help young people turn their lives around and what’s vital is to catch them at a point when they are trying to make a change. A lot of my work will involve outreach in the city centre – I’ll be going onto the streets and speaking to people and we will also receive referrals so we can get involved and make a positive difference to people’s lives.
At the moment, I’m raising awareness of what we are doing and looking at how best to start a conversation with young people who may engage in anti-social behaviours. I’ve already spoken to some and it’s like having a conversation with myself 20 years ago when I was a teenager and making every mistake you can make – getting into fights and trouble before making a change for the better.
My own experiences help me relate to young people who are getting into similar kinds of situations and give me a better chance of getting through to them. I’m excited about the role and how I can make a difference.”
Craig will be based at SCE and collaborate closely with other Stirling organisations working to combat anti-social behaviour including Go Forth’s Street Ambassadors, Stirling Council’s Youth Participation Officers, Stirling Street Pastors and community police officers.
The partners will host a launch event on Tuesday December 5 at the SCE’s Raploch headquarters where business owners and other stakeholders have the chance to meet Craig, learn about his work and the impact made during his first few months.
They hope local businesses and organisations will also become a vital part of the approach by offering mentoring and job opportunities to young people working with Craig and SCE.
The Peer Mentor role was implemented after a working group – including Stirling Council, Police Scotland, Go Forth Stirling and SCE – was set up to tackle anti-social behaviour and provide sustainable pathways for young people at risk of involvement with the justice system or statutory services and those who are not in employment, education or training.
Danielle McRorie-Smith, Project Director at Go Forth Stirling, said: “Anti-social behaviour in the city centre has a negative impact on the Stirling businesses we represent so we’ve been working hard with our partners to deliver solutions.
Increased police visibility is one solution which can function as a deterrent, however, we recognised the importance of addressing the wider underlying societal, educational and economic factors which contribute to anti-social behaviour and the need to tackle these if we are to succeed in dealing with the issue on a long-term basis.
“This is where the peer-led approach comes in and we anticipate that Craig will build a rapport with disenfranchised young people and help provide pathways for them including into employment, education and training opportunities.
“This will help strengthen confidence in Stirling’s day and night-time economies, encourage people to come into the city to shop or enjoy a night out and as a result increase footfall for the business community.”
The aims of the new role include giving young people a voice, creating a safer, and more welcoming business district and supporting a cleaner local environment. There are also plans to employ more Peer Mentors and build a team in the future.
SCE Operations Manager Ally Scott said: “The Peer Mentor role involves using a proactive, targeted outreach approach to identify and work with young people involved in anti-social behaviour, alcohol or drug use. Our advisers use personal knowledge of shared experiences to break down the barriers and stigma associated with statutory services and build trust with young people.
This empathetic approach then leads to a pathway into our education, training and employment opportunities where we work with a range of partners including the Department for Work and Pensions, Skills Development Scotland, Homestart, the NHS, Recovery Scotland, Central Scotland Regional Equalities Council, Police Scotland and Stirling Council.
The ultimate aim is to provide young people with the support needed to make positive life choices for themselves, their families, and the wider community and help create a safer, more resilient and welcoming city centre as a result.”
Police Inspector Sonia Connolly, of Police Scotland’s Stirling Community Team, said: “Craig is going to be a real asset to Stirling and is the next stage in a concerted team effort between all partners to not only address the anti-social behaviour experienced in Stirling city centre but provide positive destinations to those young people who may be on the periphery of offending or the justice system at a pivotal point in their lives.
We welcome Craig to the partnership and hope we can work together to divert young people from criminality and improve the outcomes for both them and the people who live and work in Stirling.”