Youngsters band together to tackle hate crime on Great Yarmouth estate

A BAND of aspiring young role models have formed an alliance to tackle hate crimes in their area and help smash the stereotype surrounding their age group.

The group of 11 - 16 year olds from the Halfway House area of Great Yarmouth are preparing to head out into their community to tackle problems such as bullying and racist and homophobic graffiti, which have been on the rise on the estate in recent years, after coming together to form an action group.

They are also receiving training to become 'peer mentors' in a bid to educate the next generation about the impact hate crimes can have and to provide support to those who have been victim to incidents such as bullying.

The youngsters' work is being spearheaded by the Claydon Pavilion Community Association, which was keen to do some 'preventative' work to stop the issues escalating, along with YMCA Norfolk and the borough council, and has been kick started by a Home Office grant of around �45,000.

They are now meeting once a week to come up with ideas as to how best they can tackle the problems on their estate and already have firm plans in the pipeline to make headway on their community mission.

Armed with tins of paint the group is planning on heading out next week to paint over a graffiti hot spot near Southtown Common, which has been repeatedly tagged with negative tags and messages.

YMCA youth worker Aimee Dawes is helping to lead the project.

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She said: 'There's been a real willingness (from the youngsters). They want to make the estate a better place and show the adults that not all young people are bad, and they do know change is needed.

'They really want to get involved with this and want to take control of their estate, which is really positive.'

The group, known as Generate 7, plan to start off small by organising activities such as litter picks but are keen to tackle bigger problems such as vandalism once they become more established.

They are also planning to head out into the community over the summer holidays to knock on doors and ask fellow residents what they can do to help, and it is hoped their work will help drive down incidents of hate crime.

Outside organisations such as the police and Victim Support will also be running training sessions and workshops to help the youngsters in their mentor roles, as well as teaching them about the impact hate crimes can have on victims and communities.

So far 11 youngsters from a variety of backgrounds have signed up to Generate 7 and the aim is to hand the project over to them so they can continue to run it after its first year.

'The idea is to make the project sustainable so it's something they can continue,' Aimee said. 'Those young people will be able to train up other mentors who will be able to do the same thing.'

'The fact we have 11 people coming and saying I know this is wrong, I'm going to make a difference - whatever their peers are saying - I think that's amazing,' she added.

? To get involved or find out more about the project, contact Aimee by emailing or calling 07809 554875.

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