PARTNER agencies gathered in Newport to celebrate the achievements of an initiative which gives Gwent youngsters a better chance in life.

The Positive Futures End of Year Showcase event in The Riverfront saw presentations by local authorities, emergency services, Sport Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union, the Asda Foundation and the Active Communities Network charity, about their engagement with children who might otherwise gravitate towards anti-social behaviour (ASB) or crime.

It was hosted by Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston, who has awarded Positive Futures £240,000 over the last two years to continue its growth in Newport and across the Gwent region.

The mentor-based programme uses sports, physical activity and alternative education courses to get young people, who in many cases are referred from schools they have failed to engage with, back on track.

A total of 7,285 individuals throughout Gwent engaged with the programme in the last year and police have noted a reduction in incidents of ASB in areas where it is active.

Mr Johnston said: "I found the event to be inspirational. The different speakers showed their passion for helping our local youngsters and showed that this has been a success and must continue.

"Sometimes in Wales we are not very good at shouting when we have got something right - we have got this very right and I would like to thank everyone who is helping to make such a difference."

The Showcase also saw the family of 13-year-old Curtis Murphy present a Mentee of the Year Award in his memory to Kaci Gibson.

Curtis, of the Gaer, died suddenly in June last year, after being supported by Positive Futures before his death.

Dad Lewis Murphy said: "It was emotional seeing his pictures come up. It is still difficult, but I wanted to be here because I know what a difference Positive Futures made to Curtis' life. It is nice to know his name will live on in this award, as well as in our hearts."

Kaci, 14, was referred to Positive Futures in October last year after being excluded from Llanwern High School following poor behaviour and attendance.

The Ringland youngster, who has excelled in health and beauty classes in particular, said: "It has given me something to really look forward to and the help I have received has been brilliant."

Meanwhile, a cheque was presented to Positive Futures during the event by a representative of Reliance General Stores in the Gaer, following community fundraising in the wake of Curtis' death.