Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said “a huge thank you” to the organisations who have posted daily activities for young people for her on YouTube throughout lockdown and the school holidays, as The James Campbell Collective reached close to 5,000 views.
The James Campbell Collective was first launched by the PCC in May (Monday 4) and was aimed at 10 to 25-year-olds, with daily sessions being either streamed or uploaded each day from Monday to Friday. The service was coordinated and introduced by professional personal fitness trainer and body builder James and included Luton Town Football Club training sessions, boxing for exercise, cooking and baking on a budget, chess tutorials and dance. In four months, contributors have produced 350 videos and the channel has received 4,965 views.
“I’m absolutely delighted by the success of the YouTube channel which was launched at a time when pupils and students were not even in schools and colleges or attending youth and community clubs to let them know it was happening. Yet we managed with the fantastic support of those behind all these venues to spread the word and build an audience registering nearly 5,000 views. If any single youth club provided for hard to reach young people had been attended 5,000 times, I’m sure those running it would be ecstatic.
“The whole idea was to give young people in Bedfordshire something constructive to do during lockdown or the school holidays, whichever turned out to be longer, and the way things have turned out I’m so pleased that my office and I got up and delivered for them right at the outset, without hanging around to see what would happen at such an unprecedented time of pressures for us all and young people in particular; cut off from their friends, social lives and education.
“My hope always was that, in addition to attracting young people away from more damaging online content, including those criminals who sought to lure them into county lines activity on their behalf rather than being visible themselves on our streets, we might provide them with a life-long hobby or interest that could even turn into employment just as James’ interest in the gym and fitness has provided him with a career.
“James is only 20 but his contribution has been outstanding: he is a consummate professional who delivered his films on time every single day and also brought his filming, editing and graphic design skills to the project; meaning I did not have to pay a business to design a logo or produce promotional content. I would not hesitate to recommend him to any one of our partners, such as schools and local authorities, to perhaps lead their youth activities during the normal school holidays,” said Commissioner Holloway.
James Campbell said: “I would say that The JCC has been very successful and I’m grateful for the opportunity it gave me. We can tell through the statistics that we have reached a lot of young people and I hope that we have had a positive impact on them. I hope it will inspire other collectives delivering a range of activities, similar to this one in future.”
James Hatch, School and Sport Manager for the Luton Town FC Community Trust, said: “The James Campbell Collective has been a great way to engage with not only lots of young people who would ordinarily attend our various weekly sessions around Luton and Bedfordshire, but also to reach a much wider audience with over 300 likes on our Facebook platform and over 1,500 engagements via Twitter.
“When we produced the first video at the start of May, August seemed a long way off and we all thought life would have returned to normal by now. We were wrong: with schools and colleges now closed for the summer, the videos have become an even more important way to reach everyone as social distancing restrictions continue to adversely affect the normal way young people live their lives.”
The initiative has given other organisations who are newly established, the ability to find and reach young people despite the restrictions faced as a result of Covid-19 measures such as the lockdown and social distancing.
JP Smith from Boxing Saves Lives, said: “Boxing Saves Lives is a brand new, not for profit, organisation created just as lockdown began. The opportunity given to us by the Bedfordshire PCC has been a huge building block for Boxing Saves Lives, helping us spread the message of how we can help young people.
“Without her invitation to be part of The James Campbell Collective, we would have struggled to have the resources to begin creating awareness, or the ability to hit the ground running during an incredibly difficult time. We have engaged many young people through fun fitness sessions, but also by interviewing young people and giving them a voice to share their lived experiences and to help others understand the sport.
“Being a part of The James Campbell Collective means we now have a springboard to help young people stay away from harm, build self-worth, and improve their physical and mental health through the sport of boxing.”
“What's been so important to me is that I have had the chance to introduce our young people to the sort of positive mentors among their peers delivering services like Boxing Saves Lives. Sport has always been a route out of social deprivation and a diversion from more harmful activities as has dance. That’s why it’s been so important to find inspirational youth leaders who are as young as possible to deliver this scheme too their peers and I sincerely hope that, even though I will no longer be the Police and Crime Commissioner next summer, other organisations will build on this early success,” said PCC Holloway.
The Commissioner’s office worked alongside the children’s charity, Embrace, to raise money for equipment, such as chess sets and skipping ropes. Through the fund, 116 items were sent to children and young people which helped them to follow along at home, with the chess sets proving to be most popular.
The final sessions for the James Campbell Collective were uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday 1 September. The James Campbell Collective channel will remain accessible on YouTube for anyone wishing to catch up on the sessions at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBBGBdJgnvMHd25wW7aqVUQ