A RHYL street project has netted the ultimate plaudit from football pundit Gary Lineker.

The former Barcelona and England striker has revealed that the Stand Against Violence Initiative (SAVI) initiative has won national sports charity Street Games' National Project of the year award.

SAVI was established less than two years ago after statistics revealed 190 incidents reported in the town between July and November 2018 were linked to youth related offending.

The award winning project is estimated that for every pound spent on the project, £7.11 is being saved by the area's economy.

Emma Jones, regional doorstep sports advisor for Street Games said: “I am so pleased to be a part of the work the whole team do and I hope to be able to support more opportunities for young people to have positive experiences with physical activity in the future.”

“It is brilliant to see North Wales getting national recognition. The work put in and the partnership approach is such a credit to everyone involved.

“West Rhyl is recognised to be the first and second most deprived community in Wales according to the Welsh Index of Multiple

Deprivation 2019. Increasing opportunities using sport and media as a vehicle for social change has led to a stable, sustainable partnership, said Emma

Established by team made up of North Wales Police, West Rhyl Young People’s Project, the Brighter Futures consortium and Wicked Wales Cinema, the organisations have worked in partnership anto create a a provision for the times when youth antisocial behaviour was at its highest.

With the help of early intervention youth funding from the Serious Violence Prevention Programme, SAVI was able to deliver a variety of engagement and intervention projects to support young people at risk of being exposed to serious violence and crime.

PC Darren Ankers and Crime Prevention Coordinator Donna Taylor from North Wales Police, together with key partners, provided a targeted response in bringing everything together to support a reduction in demand.

"As a result of the SAVI project young people enjoy greater access to youth-friendly places to meet, complimented by an experienced team of street-based detached youth workers engaging with those that do not access other services”, said Ms Taylor.

Before lockdown between 50 and 60 young people per night, aged between 11 and 17, attended sessions across Brighter Futures and West Rhyl Young People’s Project as well as alternate provisions including boxing, dodge ball or even just going to the youth café for a meal and a chat.

Wicked Wales Cinema held special youth cinema screenings monthly at The Little Theatre, where the young people got to choose which films were screened.

“Due to COVID restrictions placing limitations on meeting places, SAVI has had to adapt its approach,” West Rhyl Young People’s Project manager Hannah Rowan said.

"The SAVI partners are still collaborating to develop new ways of reaching young people and helping them to keep active and stay well, all safely within the law.”