In this month's column with Future Youth Zone, based in Barking and Dagenham, chief executive Gavin Evans writes about how the youth charity used the beautiful game to establish even closer links with local police officers.

In Barking and Dagenham, 50 per cent of young people are living in poverty and facing multiple other disadvantages such as high unemployment and high youth crime rates.

The impact of Covid-19 has only exacerbated that. Young people risk being among the biggest victims of the pandemic, if left without support.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Future Youth Zone versus the Barking and Dagenham policeFuture Youth Zone versus the Barking and Dagenham police (Image: Future Youth Zone)

On Thursday (June 24), Future Youth Zone welcomed Barking and Dagenham police for a six-a-side football tournament comprising of four teams of young people, staff and local police officers.

Future Youth Zone works very closely with the police to ensure that all young people are kept safe.

This tournament gave young people a chance to meet their local officers and positively build relationships with them. They found out more about the individuals behind the uniform and heard about everything from policing and careers to what the job really entails.

Steve Anderton, acting head of youth work, told me: “This was a highly contested event filled with healthy competition, relationship building and promises to be great fun!

"Future takes a collaborative approach to working with local partners.

"The police are one of those community partners we work very closely with to ensure young people have the best opportunities and are in safe hands.”

Thanks to Barking and Dagenham Post for providing some space each month for me to champion young people and share my views and thoughts on the youth sector.

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