A pioneering Gwynedd project using ‘horse-whispering’ has been given a major boost – thanks to cash confiscated from criminals.

The Welsh Institute of Therapeutic Horsemanship, a registered charity based at Treflys, near Porthmadog, has been awarded £3,000 from a special fund set up by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC and North Wales Police.

The Your Community, Your Choice initiative – otherwise known as the Participatory Budgeting Scheme – is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).

Much of the money was recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Welsh Institute of Therapeutic Horsemanship’s Penytrip Project helps disadvantaged young people to gain confidence and communication skills through learning how to work with horses.

It is one of 13 grants totalling £42,000 given to 13 community organisations across North Wales to support schemes which benefit local communities.

Penytrip Poroject director Lindsey Crosbie said: “Guided by a trained practitioner, participants aged eight to 18 learn kind and ethical training methods that are based on the horse’s own subtle system of communication, a process sometimes known as horse whispering.

“Each young person attends for one to two hours per week, initially for a period of six weeks which can be extended if necessary on a case by case basis. There is no riding involved, meaning that young people of all backgrounds and abilities can take part.

“Sessions take place entirely on the ground at our eight-acre smallholding near Porthmadog and include grooming, lunging, leading, round pen work, obstacle courses and much more.

“The £3,000 award is a tremendous boost towards our running costs, especially looking after our team of six horses.

“The money will provide a real cushion and give us a bit of financial stability and it’s good to know it has come to us after being confiscated from criminals.”

The other Gwynedd county winner was Caernarfon-based GISDA – Grwp Ieuencid Sengl Digartref Arfon or Single Homeless Youth group Arfon – whose Mentro Mlaen project was awarded £3,000.

This aims to assist vulnerable people to make the journey from being supported by establishments such as GISDA, to a more independent life and access to work.

GISDA will support them to do this by offering opportunities to gain experiences and skills through activities and sessions that will contribute to developing their confidence which will also be suitable for transferring to the world of work.

Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick, who jointly presented the awards with Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki, said: “This scheme takes money away from the crooks and gives it to the people, and what all of you here today have done is improve the quality of life in your communities.

“This year we saw over 50 community groups submit applications to us under the scheme.

“Of these 50, 26 projects went forward to the public vote, and almost 7,000 members of the public from across north Wales cast their vote.

“I would like to thank each and every one of you for submitting your ideas and developing projects that help to support the Police and Crime Plan and aim to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in your areas.

“The wide range of innovative and interesting projects demonstrates to me that communities can work together to make public spaces safer.”

Assistant Chief Constable Debicki told the award recipients: “I see this scheme as a way of greasing the wheels to allow you to take your projects just a bit further.

“You are all making a difference and will continue to make a difference to people’s lives and you should be proud of what you do.

“This scheme helps to turn bad money into good projects, and it is satisfying to see that money taken by police officers and the courts from criminals is given to the community.

“As police officers one of our main aims is to continue to make North Wales a safer place and the projects with which you are involved help us to do that.”