Investing in different communities and agencies to tackle exploitation themselves is a key part of what we do – and a hallmark of our VERU Village approach.

This year we have invested around £310,000 into 24 different programmes across Bedfordshire. If you have concerns about someone or think they could benefit from one of these programmes, please get in touch with us.

Luton Youth Offending Service – Future Begins Today – £30,000

Diversionary project – training programme for staff and carers/parents of young people to attend jointly. Also includes delivery of a bespoke parenting support sessions specifically for South Asian families with young people open to different services, and an aspirational programme for young men also open to these services.

Bedfordshire Youth Offending Serice – Tree Project – £30,000

Based on a project that has operated in Luton, the Tree Project (Tackling, Reducing and Ending Exploitation) has its roots in the ethos of the Operation StaySafe scheme introduced in England in 2008. Ultimately devised to safeguard vulnerable children and young people at risk of exploitation that leads to violence via joint patrols and outreach work in target areas such as town centres.

Luton Community Safety Partnership – Participatory Budgeting – £25,000

Enabling residents to decide on the allocation of funds to support community projects they think will benefit their community the most. This programme has successfully delivered grassroots neighbourhood community projects in key wards across a range of priorities that are highly relevant to supporting young people in the community safety arena and preventing exploitation. It has been linked to Luton Council’s member-led engagement programme to commission community led solutions to provide early intervention and prevention work with young people at a neighbourhood level.

Bedford Community Safety Partnership – Safe Spaces – £25,000

Delivering ‘Safe Spaces’ to young people aged 12-18 (up to 25 with additional needs) across the urban wards of Bedford. Delivered through the CSP Contextual Safeguarding & Tasking meeting, partnered with Groundwork, the project aims to identify emerging areas of concern around violence and exploitation. Groundwork can be tasked through the same group to deliver youth provision in the target areas, offering positive activities, targeted support and one-to-one mentoring.

Young Enterprise Charity – Phoenix Project – £20,000

Developing the necessary resources and materials to support a blend of e-learning combined with facilitated discussion for a group of young people within HMP Bedford. Currently scoping out the validity of broadening the programme developed for HMP Bedford with local Pupil Referral Units.

Early Childhood Partnership – Play Therapy Service – £17,200

Delivering a play therapy service for children who are repeat victims of domestic abuse, and are heard at Bedford and Central Bedfordshire MARAC. The service is for children aged 3-14 years, and offers a minimum of 12 therapy sessions. Referrals are made through the MARAC.

Diverse FM – Radio Broadcasting and Training – £7,500

Supported the purchase of a new playout system to help them reach the wider community in Bedfordshire in promoting information, advice and services around community safety and other areas. The project also delivered training to a wider range of people in radio broadcasting and presenting.

Counselling Wellbeing Foundation – Heal the Parent to Heal the Child: Empowering Parents – £2,500

The project aims to empower parents (mostly without good childhoods) in engagement and promoting ‘play’ in their child’s learning. The programme encourages participants to explore feelings and expression without negatively reacting, reducing antisocial or promiscuous behaviours to get needed attention, and reduces the need for social care intervention.

Inspiring People – Creative Futures – £2,500

Providing opportunities for young people aged 13-25 years to design, create and broadcast their own youth podcast or series of interviews. This is a youth project, by the young people for young people, that provides a platform for young people to have a voice, discussing topics, and issues that are of interest to young people today.

FACES – Baby FACES Plus – £2,500

The project (Baby FACES Plus) aims to support people in the transitional stages of becoming parents and to offer the tools and coping strategies to prevent and heal Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). 

One Stop Advice – Project Stealth – £2,500

Building resilience within parents who need support and assistance due to lack of confidence and knowledge. Funding also used for an additional mentor to work with and support the young people with mentoring and guidance support.

Boxing Saves Lives – £7,500

The project will continue to provide one-to-one support for young people across Bedfordshire through boxing and mentoring. This builds on the organisation’s success since October 2020, where they have worked with over 1,000 young people in that time. Dependent on demand, some funding will be allocated for school programs, usually siz weeks in length as a key prevention technique in targeting those at risk of exploitation, exclusion and harm.

CHUMS – Bereavement and Traumatic Bereavement Intervention – £5,000

Providing advice, support and therapeutic intervention for families in Bedfordshire, inclusive of diverse groups, who have been affected by bereavement. This includes supporting families to share their experiences and integrate their loss.

Women’s Aid – Engaged, Involved, Enabled – Phase 2 – £2,000

Building on phase one, the project has brought the children’s Welcome to Refuge handbook into an audio/video version for very young children. It has enabled the reviewing, influencing and improving of services for survivors of domestic abuse and women entering refuge.

Next Generation Youth Theatre – Youth Arts – £5,000

Funded formation of The Black Legacy panel with three NGYT members, each member benefiting from the Young Black Minds therapeutic sessions. This creates opportunities and an inclusive space for young Black people, offering scholarship places to NGYT young people and focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of young people, inclusivity, accessibility and engagement.

Samsons – Time2Train Summer Camp – £2,500

Covering martial arts classes and boxing classes over the summer holidays

Bedford Open Door – Counselling Service: Youth at Risk – £5,000

Delivering specialist counselling provision to young people aged 13 – 25 years who are at risk, are victims of crime and have had or are experiencing acute childhood experiences. The approach is to work collaboratively with the VERU team and partner organisations to ensure the young person is at the centre of a multi-agency approach. Early intervention will provide young people with strategies to: cope with existing challenges in their lives that impact negatively on their mental health, to have expert support in managing the trauma of past abuse, to reduce the likelihood of engaging in risk taking, behaviours, criminal and gang related activity.

Luton Urban Radio – VERU Youth Voices – £2,000

Radio shows by young people for young people targeting young people and their families in the community. Highlighting some of the concerns young people may have regarding day to day safety as well as supporting them with the aim of reducing crime in general, violence and exploitation.

Equine Therapy – Group Programme – £6,500

Programme covers five key themes (respect, relationships, responsibility, boundaries and trust) plus other issues such as choices and consequences, communication, managing stress, and tolerance and patience. 

NCTG Church – Choose the Right Path – £2,000

Mini film project designed to highlight social issues within modern day society and provide online workshops for young people. Will outline the effects knife crime has on individuals, families and ultimately the entire community. The original cohort of young people engaged are aged six years to 20 years, from multiple ethnic backgrounds.

Mary Seacole – Barbering Intervention Project – £5,000

A barbering pilot project supporting a group of residents through an eight-week programme of informal training, where they will learn the skill of barbering. Sessions supported by staff and a qualified barber

Town and Parish Councils – Youth Spaces Project – £28,000

The VERU and the Police and Crime Commissioner commissioned a series of improvements to local spaces to keep young people safe. You can view a full list of these interventions on the PCC’s website.

Bedfordshire Hospitals – Neon Project – £50,000

Aims to give staff at both Bedford and the Luton & Dunstable hospitals the skills and confidence they need to be a beacon of hope for vulnerable young people caught up in street violence.

In 2020/21 we invested more than £150,000 into community projects across Bedfordshire. A full list of these interventions is included below.


Postcode Sports – £10,000

The project will fund a series of football, boxing and basketball tournaments to bring young people together. It will aim to get young people from all of the different estates in Luton to participate in these activities.

Vehicle for Change – £10,000

The purpose of the programme is to extend an existing programme already working in partnership with the MAGPan to the wider community. This will extend the project to cover more people potentially involved in serious violence and gang exploitation who are not yet part of the MAGPan process.

Boxing Saves Lives – £9,125

The initiative will use the sport of boxing as a crime prevention strategy that improves physical and mental health of its participants. It will utilise the strengths of discipline, respect, integrity and self-worth to empower young people to make positive life changing choices. The project will be delivered in the community and in schools, being open to children living in different areas and having multiple needs.

Mastroe Entrepreneurship with SAP (ESAP) – £10,000

Will provide entrepreneurship and business processes training to 24 Bedford based young people from ethnic minority backgrounds over the course of two sessions each for 10 weeks. Students will receive mentoring, support and discussions around behaviour change, as well as help with CV writing, interview skills and finding a job.

Mary Seacole Housing Association – £15,000

Mary Seacole believes the best way to engage young people is to provide relatable and transferable skills around the subject matter that motivates the individuals to achieve their own goals. They are currently running a pilot programme which looks to explore the discrepancies young people have around criminal behaviour and exploitation compared to the realities, whilst teaching them a new relatable and transferable skill set. This will be achieved through a barbering pilot project, which will support a group of residents through an eight week programme of informal training, where they will learn the skill of barbering. This will be supported by the use of an interactive resource, which will have the functionality to provide up to date, accurate links directly to the support services necessary to address the types of exploitation faced by young people in Bedfordshire. The app will allow the participant to views choices around areas of criminality and exploitation, and explore the various outcomes both positive and negative a personal choice can make. These sessions will be supported by staff and a qualified barber.

Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust – £12,595

This funding will pay towards a support worker who can go into homes during the pandemic when a domestic abuse notification is received. The support worker will be able to support the family with making the home secure and offer valuable support to the children within the family.

CHUMS – £8,000

This service will provide mental health support to children and young people.


Pathways to Success – Diverse FM – £10,000

Run by Diverse FM’s community team, this Luton-based outreach project will involve a weekly drop in session offering young people access to information, support and peer mentoring.  As part of the development of this service, Diverse FM will offer employability skills, media skills development and recreational activities, with a view to building skills and encouraging positive life choices by the young people that take part. A radio advert for the programme is attached to this email, with this and a video about the project due to be circulated on our social media channels over the next few weeks.

Uprising – One Stop Advice – £10,000

This project will offer parental classes which build skills and resilience.  Its focus will be to provide a service whereby parents, guardians and carers are mentored to increase their ability to put measures in place to manage boundaries and protect their children from exploitation.  This project will particularly focus on building resilience within parents who, due to a lack of confidence and knowledge, would benefit from support.

Challenging behaviour parenting workshops – Counselling Wellbeing Foundation – £10,000

The foundation will work with parents whose own lives have been impacted by social environmental factors, leading to issues such as substance abuse or criminal offending. This project will work to improve family relationships and long-term outcomes for the children. 

Baby Faces – FACES – £10,000

The project will support people in the transitional stages of becoming parents and offer them tools and coping strategies to prevent and heal adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

Prison Me No Way – Oakbank School – £1,500

This coeducational special school in Leighton Buzzard will run presentations to more than 100 students by Prison Me No Way, an agency which helps students via presentations from ex-prisoners who have turned their lives around. Workshops will be specifically tailored to cover county lines, gangs, drugs and violence. This programme will reach those students who are already involved in gang related behaviour and act as an early intervention for those who are vulnerable to being groomed to become involved in this type of lifestyle.


Ampthill Town Council – An outreach programme which will engage with young people in the town, replicating a scheme which has run successfully in Flitwick.

Luton Council – Will support the purchase of floodlights for the multi-use games area at the Hart Hill Community Centre.

Luton Council – Active sports equipment purchased for People’s Park in High Town.

Potton Town Council – VERU will help fund a youth club run by Groundworks in the town for one night a week.

Sandy Town Council – The funding will contribute towards the construction of a gym trail across the town, starting in Sunderland Road.

Shefford Town Council – Will improve the security of the council’s youth hub, which was established last year with the help of previous VERU funding.

Staploe Parish Council – Money will pay for utilities connections to two converted shipping containers, allowing them to be brought back into use by local groups.

Toddington Parish Council – Improved security around the cemetery and allotment, as well as sports equipment and a permanent fixed base for a table tennis table.

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