The provincial government is pledging ongoing support to the tune of half a million dollars per year for a Surrey gang prevention program.
The Surrey Wraparound program, better known as Wrap, targets at-risk youth with the goal of keeping them out of gang life.
Back in August, the province doubled funding for the initiative to $500,000, and now Premier John Horgan says the new funding will be permanent.
“This is the first step of many steps that we need to take,” Horgan said.
“[Public Safety] Minister [Mike] Farnworth has seized on that, the government has seized on that. Working with the city, the school district, with the RCMP we can wrestle this to the ground. But it’s a partnership, it’s not one-time funding, it’s an ongoing process.”
Sept. 2016: Surrey’s anti-gang program having a positive impact
The Wrap program is a partnership between the Surrey School District, the Surrey RCMP and the City of Surrey.
It is open to youth as young as 11, and the province says it has been shown to decrease participants’ negative contact with police by two-thirds.
Participants are given support including one-on-one mentoring, individual and family counselling, recreational activities, substance and mental health support, and life skills training and help with job placement.
Since it began in 2009, more than 500 young people have participated in the Wrap program.
“I’m confident that any government will see the benefit of helping kids at an early age to get them on track,” Horgan said.
“It saves money in the long-term. We hear about prevention when we talk about health care. We need to talk about prevention when it comes to crime and violence as well.”
The new funding is aimed at eventually eliminating the wait list for the program, which Horgan said is down to about a dozen youth.
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