Former football club of Tomasz Oleszak to receive funding from Operation Payback

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Operation Payback is made up of money that has been seized through successful police action across the region

Over £160,000 has been granted to a range of projects in the North East, as part of the Operation Payback fund, led by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.

One of the groups who have received funding is Gateshead Cleveland Hall Football Club, which was the former club of Tomasz Oleszak.

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The 14-year-old young football player was tragically killed in a knife attack by a fellow youngster in October of last year.

One year after his death, his former football club has been granted £3,600 of funding which will go towards the development of a brand-new 4G football pitch, which will be dedicated to Tomasz’s memory.

Other groups who have received funding include Ashington Rugby Cricket Club, High Spen Social Action, Sunderland’s HALO Project and Holding Hands North East. The money will be used for various reasons, including new facilities, repairing CCTV, and for youth diversionary activities and kick-start community projects.

The Operation Payback fund is made up of money that has been seized through successful police action across the region, and is now being shared among a range of community-focused projects.

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Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “There’s no better use for cash seized from crime than channelling it right back into our communities – particularly areas that need it most or where we are wanting to clampdown on things like anti-social behaviour. It’s about presenting kids with the chance to do things they want to do, keeping them entertained or even making sure they are fed and feel supported in life.

“There are such worthwhile projects on the list – the new football pitch in memory of Tomasz being one of them club, this community, has been incredible in how it has come together in the aftermath of Tomasz’s death. When I was at the memorial football match for Tomasz, as well as the outpouring of grief, there was such a warm, supportive atmosphere among everyone there - so many people care and want to make a difference.

“We owe it to him, to put all our effort into stopping kids carrying knives, stopping this devastation happening again. By investing in communities and creating opportunities for local kids I really hope we can have a positive impact on young lives in the area.”

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Kim added: “There are a lot of cash strapped organisations out there and Operation Payback is stripping cash out of the hands of criminals and handing it over to so many grass root cases that matter. It’s thanks to some great police work that I am in the position to do this.

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