Creative Consulting & Development Works

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Giving youth alternatives: The Youth Safety and Religious Partnership Programme

10 April 2018

The Youth Safety and Religious Partnership Programme (YSRP) is a holiday programme implemented in the June/July, December/January and Easter school holidays.  This Western Cape Government Department of Community Safety (DoCS) initiative is in its sixth year and targets children and youth aged 14-21 years living in high priority crime areas that form part of the Community Safety Improvement Plan (CSIP).

The Department partners with faith-based organisations (FBOs) in these communities to serve as direct implementers of the Programme. The rationale is that FBOs have a significant presence and footprint in these communities and are well suited to attract community members to participate. WCG DoCS advertises and invites FBOs to apply for YSRP funding to run a holiday programme and the programmes include sporting activities, recreational games, youth development, life skills and career development activities.  In some cases, a safety promotion or crime prevention activity is included, for example, a presentation on drug awareness, or gangs. Children and youth are provided with a meal and supervised by adults.

The primary aim of the YSRP is to keep children and youth in high crime areas off the streets during the holiday season. Through involvement in activities, they are physically prevented from being unsupervised and potentially getting involved in high-risk behaviours, or being exposed to violence and crime.

  

WCG DoCS commissioned Creative Consulting & Development Works to conduct an evaluation of the YSRP in 2017 to assess Programme implementation, outcomes (or results) achieved and provide recommendations to assist in Programme strengthening. Our methodology included a clarificatory workshop, implementation evaluation, and outcomes evaluation, following a formative and mixed-method approach, which included quantitative and qualitative data. The clarificatory workshop produced two versions of a Theory of Change (ToC): the first depicting the current scope of the YSRP i.e. immediate/short-term results, and the second depicting potential intermediate and long-term effects that the YSRP could have. The implementation and outcomes evaluations used primary and secondary data. The latter was used in a literature review and a document review. Various primary data collection methods were used, with: 1) 30 FBO Programme Manager interviews; 2) 10 beneficiary focus group discussions (FGDs); 3) 1 WCG DoCS staff FGD; 4) 2 key informant FGDs and 1 key informant interview; 5) and 51 beneficiary activity sheets were completed.

Some of the key evaluation findings include:

  • The Programme kept close to 100,000 beneficiaries off the streets over a 6 year period. It provided a good alternative to risky behaviours.
  • The YSRP was able to run in dangerous communities because FBOs formed partnerships with SAPS, CPFs, and neighbourhood watches; venues were secured; there were consequences for misbehaviour; weapons were confiscated and gangs avoided harming the YSRP.
  • Many FBOs continued a relationship with the children even after the YSRP concluded, especially if beneficiaries were part of the church’s constituency, or if FBOs had long-standing community presence; promoting the sustainability of the programme’s outcomes.

The evaluation revealed that the YSRP was indeed producing its intended outcomes of keeping children and youth in high crime areas off the streets during the holiday season, when they may otherwise not have adult supervision. Several design and implementation recommendations were also made to produce even longer-term benefits.

  

Beronisha Cloete, one of our data collectors, was enlightened by the beneficiary focus groups and observed that the programme played a role in making children and youth feel safe:

“I have been living in the Western Cape all my life and always knew at face value the challenges we were facing with regard to crime, safety and gang-related violence. This fieldwork has brought us face to face on a deeper level with the real problems and issues that people deal with on a daily basis. Many of the stories from participants were such eye openers and definitely made us realise how important it is to keep children and youth off the streets. The YSRP programme implemented by DOCS has most definitely brought a sense of safety and security for children and youth within the Western Cape.  Many of the participants had very positive feedback about the programme and activities offered to them. Almost 100% of children and youth within this programme felt it was a safe haven for them and were very grateful for what was provided, be it food, activities, educational games, or just a loving environment.”

Another fieldworker, Mkhululi Mnyaka, had similar perceptions. He recounts the joy the programme brought to the beneficiaries:

“From my observations in the field, I felt like the YSRP programme provided a safe space/heaven for the kids who needed these in their communities. I could see the kids were very much free and happy to either be at the church/mosque or community hall where they are in the presence of programme implementers who were making sure that they are playing safely and not affected by the everyday crime and violence on the streets. I also felt that the kids really enjoyed themselves in the programme because they participated and engaged in the activities with much excitement.”

Our team’s third fieldworker, Carmen Sylvester, was humbled by the data collection experience, where she witnessed the joy and persistence of beneficiaries in the face of adverse circumstances:

“Regardless of what is happening in their community, they still have hope and dreams of a better life. These kids were always happy and smiling. What an experience and learning opportunity for me.”

Article written by Jenna Joffe for Creative Consultants & Development Works

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