Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’eith (centre) presents the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award for Youth Leadership to (from left) Gary Dhindsa, Manpreet Sarai, Deepak Purewal and Harpreet Singh of SACRO. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford anti-gang program receives provincial award

South Asian Community Resource Office recognized for youth leadership

The South Asian Community Resource Office (SACRO) has been awarded the 2019 Province of BC Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award for Youth Leadership.

The award was presented on Nov. 8 to SACRO, a program of Archway Community Services (formerly Abbotsford Community Services) that began in 2006.

It provides culturally relevant crime prevention programs for South Asian youth – as well as their families – who are at risk of, or already involved in, criminal and gang activity.

Together with the Archway Youth Resource Centre, it provides the In It Together gang-prevention program.

SACRO has provided services for over 350 South Asian youth and their families in the last decade.

The program includes one-to-one support, parent education sessions, recreation groups, mentoring, counselling and skill development.

Manpreet Sarai, a case manager and family educator, accepted the award on behalf of SACRO.

“Our work can be challenging but we celebrate every small step a youth takes to turn their life around. Whether it’s graduating, finding legitimate employment or reconnecting with their family, it’s a step in the right direction,” Sarai said.

Federal funding for the In It Together program was discontinued in 2018, leading to a reduced capacity to work with gang-involved youth.

New provincial funding and support from United Way allowed them to continue providing limited services to the most at-risk youth.

SACRO currently has a wait list of 26 youth and will have their funding levels reduced again next year.

“It means a lot to have our work recognized by the province and we hope to be able to continue working to keep our youth and community safe,” Sarai said.

The Ministry of Public Safety hosts the annual awards to recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety.

The ceremony is held during Crime Prevention Week and took place at Blue Horizon Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

The Youth Leadership Award was established in memory of Const. Wael T. Audi, a young and enthusiastic member of the Squamish RCMP who recognized the potential in youth and encouraged their participation in community safety and crime prevention.

RELATED: Funding is running out for Abbotsford gang-prevention program

RELATED: Abbotsford youth gang prevention program gets provincial funding

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