A Youth Safety Ambassador Programme (YSAP) has been launched in the Western Cape to help prevent violence and murder in gang and crime hotspots within the metro and towns across the province.
The YSAP will see 1 000 safety ambassadors placed at different partner institutions, including schools, municipalities, non-governmental organisations and other locations across the province as youth violence prevention facilitators.
The project is part of the violence prevention component of the Provincial Safety Plan.
Safety ambassadors work on initiatives and interventions identified by area-based teams.
Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz, who launched the YSAP in Mitchells Plain recently, said these teams initiate and implement violence prevention interventions in communities where the highest proportion of murder and violence takes place.
“The project is the culmination of months of hard work, starting with a much smaller pilot project from which we learnt many lessons.
“It pulls together different partners, from municipalities around the province to the Western Cape Education Department, non-governmental organisations and other placement institutions,” he says.
The YSAP is also aimed at ensuring that the youth can access opportunities for further career and personal development, through training and other elements built into the programme.
Youth are placed in schools and communities to ensure that their time is taken up by constructive, productive activities and they have opportunities to become role models for other young people.
Britney Ruiters (21) from Mitchells Plain is one of the youth safety ambassadors.
“We see the programme as a stepping-stone to greater opportunities that we would otherwise not have had.
“We are also very excited about making a difference in the community with the violence prevention work we do with young people in the schools where we are placed,” she says.
Since the launch of the programme, the department has hosted YSAP inductions in numerous towns and suburbs.
The ambassadors will earn a monthly Expanded Public Works Programme stipend for the duration of the contract, which will run for six to 12 months.