A charity offering support to young offenders who want to break away from gang culture and violent crime is being forced to leave the borough due to lack of funding.
The SOS Project has helped hundreds of ex-offenders reintegrate into society by assisting them into education and employment, as well providing emotional support through trained mentors who are ex-offenders themselves.
The charity was backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson as a positive response to the London riots of 2011, but the High Trust fund that financed it was only contracted for a year.
The SOS Project were aware it would only receive guaranteed funding for a year, but were under the expectation that the Croydon Council would be able to offer long-term funding after the contract ran out.
The charity said it is “incredibly sad” but there is no option but to “shut up shop” due to it being unable to find the funds needed to pay for the services its staff provides.
A spokesperson for SOS said: “We would have thought that given our long history in the borough, Croydon council would have chosen to fund the project, but clearly the council has other priorities.”
David Evans, the charity’s partnership manager, says that neither Mike Fisher, leader of Croydon Council, or Simon Hoar, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Public Protection, are returning the charity’s emails.
A spokesperson for Croydon Council said: “At the time Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime bids were funded, the SOS project did not require funding. When it did, we assisted by providing help and advice in finding other sources of funding.”
“The council has had a significant reduction in funding, and cannot fund everything. We provided all the help and support we could to direct SOS towards alternative sources of funding.”
The council added there are currently five initiatives to tackle gang issues in the borough, including the Growing Against Gangs and Violence Metropolitan Police schools programme.
By Alexandra Rogers