South East Wales

Proceeds of crime: Teenagers give cash to good causes

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Media captionMoney seized from criminals in the Gwent Police Force area is being given to community groups

Two teenagers have helped choose 40 community groups to benefit from cash seized from criminals in the Gwent police force area.

Grants are being given out to groups tackling issues including anti-social behaviour or those that reduce the risk of offending.

In total 500 applications were received for a share of the £156,000 available.

Chelsea Brain, 19, from Ebbw Vale, said: "Some of the applications nearly brought me to tears."

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston said it was humbling to see the projects which needed money.

He said: "It was apparent to me from speaking to the public there were projects out there who needed a little bit of funding to help them - and do a really good thing in their communities.

"We're taking the monies we get from criminals - those people that are locked up and have made money out of drugs or criminality - and giving it back to the communities."

'Changing lives'

Applicants had to show the positive impact the projects have on the community as well as how they contribute to reducing and preventing crime.

Two teenagers from the Blaenau Gwent Youth Forum were part of the panel which helped decide which projects were likely to appeal to young people and be effective.

Dylan Hurter, 18, from Brynmawr, said he was pleased their input had made a difference.

Miss Brain added: "It's life changing to a lot of people and you can see it moving forward and changing people's lives, not just instantly, but for later generations too."

Image caption Dylan Hurter (centre) and Chelsea Brain (back to camera) helped choose the groups to benefit

'Confidence'

The Tillery Combat MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Academy in Blaina has been awarded £5,000.

Instructor Richard Shore said the club helps provide alternatives for young people who may already have been in trouble with the police, or have dropped out of school early.

"One thing we have done through our work with The Prince's Trust and police is reduce anti-social behaviour," said Mr Shore.

"A lot of these lads have the confidence now to walk away from situations - whereas before they were a little bit insecure and felt they needed to prove themselves.

"The difference is now they have competed and won trophies at the highest level, so there's no need for them to stand in the street and react to confrontation."

In all 40 groups have been given a share of the fund.

Image caption A martial arts academy in Blaina is one of the projects funded from cash recovered from criminals

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