A community group in Colwyn Bay which works with vulnerable people to explore their creative talents has received a welcome boost thanks to cash seized from criminals.
The Kind Bay Initiative has been providing food, clothes and entertainment as well as advice and support for those struggling with isolation and mental health issues and in need of support since 2019.
Covid-19 has meant an increase in demand for their weekly activities at their new premises in Princes Drive where they focus on activities such as expressive art, clay therapy, pyrography, printing and photography.
It is a development made possible thanks a £2,500 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
Helping support vulnerable adults from Colwyn Bay and the surrounding area, and KBI chair Helen Robinson recognises the challenges created by the pandemic.
She said: “It should not be under-estimated how much of an impact Covid-19 has had on people’s mental health, particularly those who are isolated and vulnerable and we are here for them.
“We want to help them and provide activities such as the creative sessions, which we believe will have a positive impact.”
The Your Community, Your Choice scheme is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT), which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year.
It is the eighth year of the awards scheme and much of over £280,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The scheme is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner Arfon Jones’s Police and Crime Plan.
This year there were 21 grants given with an online vote deciding the successful applicants from among the many projects submitted and over 32,000 votes cast.
The Kind Bay Initiative was one of the lucky winners, to the delight of Helen who said: “It makes such a massive difference to us to get this funding and we are very grateful.
“The activities we run are having a really positive impact and we have seen how much our attendees have benefitted.
“We try to break down the prejudices that exist in society. People may have pre-conceived ideas about the vulnerable people we support and we are working to change that.”
The grant will allow the Create and Express community sessions to take place and Helen added: “Working with clay and other materials allows attendees to use their hands to express how they are feeling and can be a real emotional release and very rewarding.”
The Kind Bay Initiative has just opened its new multi-purpose community space on Princes Drive in Colwyn Bay and Helen said: “It was a miracle that we found our new space.
“It is an ideal facility and we are keen that it should remain a multi-functional space, to allow different activities to be held there.
“We are growing as an organisation and our vision eventually would be to be open five to six days every week.
“Our focus is on positive mental health and being there to support the people who need us.”
The Kind Bay Initiative was a winner of Your Community, Your Choice funding for the second successive yearand is one of three organisations from the county of Conwy to be awarded funding this year.
Also scooping a cash boost are St David’s Hospice, £2,410, and Hope Restored, £2,000.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across North Wales for an eighth consecutive year.
“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system.
“These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
“As part of this I aim to ensure that a clear focus continues around county lines crimes – a particularly vicious form of criminality that exploits young vulnerable people into a life of crime which is extremely dangerous and violent and from which there is little escape.
“I am delighted to see that a number of your applications aim to address this issue and support our young people.
“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”
PACT chairman Ashley Rogers added: “Your community your choice is a really valuable way of supporting communities and putting the choice of which projects are supported in their hands.
“It’s a very democratic process which is why I think it’s been such a long running and successful scheme.
“It’s lovely project to be involved with and you can directly see the benefits from the funding in strengthening our resilient communities.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
“Our operations target all types of serious criminality including cross border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms as well as drug production, importation and supply.
“Those who are involved in serious and organised crime often live well beyond their means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and frequently holiday abroad; they may well be living lifestyles on the proceeds of crime.
“Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.
“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that’s being used for a constructive purpose.”
For more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx