The government is giving £5m to 200 grassroots sports organisations in an effort to offer young people in deprived areas a constructive way to spend their spare time.
You may be forgiven for assuming this money was part of a Department of Culture, Media and Sport initiative, but it is in fact part of a push from the Ministry of Justice to prevent youth crime.
According to government figures, youth crime costs the UK taxpayer £1.5bn a year, and deputy prime minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab believes it’s schemes like this that can make all the difference to children at risk of one day going down a dark path.
“For those young people who might be at risk of getting drawn into antisocial behaviour or even worse, things like drugs and gangs, we give them – by supporting sports like boxing and football – a positive outlet”, he said.
However, Labour has consistently criticised the Conservatives for underfunding deprived urban areas – something the prime minister was slammed for last year when he told a crowd of Conservative members in Tunbridge Wells just that.
When I challenged Mr Raab on the cuts to youth centres in places like Tottenham under the Conservative government, he defended the government’s fiscal choices: “We’ve got to cut our coat according to our cloth.
“We’ve gone through this incredible financial challenge that the whole world has seen, but what we are doing and what you can see we’re doing here is protecting and preserving investment in these kinds of schemes.”
When I asked former footballer and ThruLife ambassador Jobi McAnuff whether he believed the government was putting enough funding into areas like his hometown of Tottenham, he replied: “No is the short answer.”
He continued: “This is very much our future and I think we should do as much as we can to put on these projects and facilities for children, and also to bang the drum and make some noise and hopefully the people in power will listen and understand how important the work is that is being done in these areas.”
Co-founder of ThruLife Michael Donaldson told me he didn’t think the money was enough and explained that he wanted politicians to be more hands-on when it comes to helping communities like his.
“I’d love to see them actually spend, rather than five or 10 minutes, come down and be part of a programme, come and do a week with us. I know it’s difficult but I’m yet to see anyone doing it and I don’t understand why,” he said.
Though this cash injection will be a welcome boost to grassroots sports clubs like ThruLife doing everything they can to prevent youth crime, they remain unconvinced that those in the Westminster bubble handing out the dosh understand what children in deprived areas are up against day-to-day.