AN ALLOA mixed martial arts fighter is at the centre of a peer mentor programme aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in Stirling.

Craig McIntosh led a meeting with stakeholders and business owners from across Stirling to propose his idea, which aims to provide alternative positive pathways for potential young offenders.

Representatives from Go Forth Stirling BID and Police Scotland were also in attendance, having helped fund the peer mentor post in partnership with the Stirling Community Enterprise (SCE).

Craig, who also founded The Submission Factory gym in Alloa, touched on his own experiences growing up which he hopes to use to help young offenders.

He said: “From the age of 13 until I was 20, I was drinking and getting into fights and I hit rock bottom when my solicitor told me I could end up going to jail.

“It was at that point I stopped drinking and got myself onto a positive path. I became involved in mixed martial arts and later coached it and have managed to go all over the world competing with it.

“It was a turning point for me and now I’m using my experience to undertake outreach work and divert people to what we can offer them at SCE.

“I’m having conversations and directing them to help, such as supporting them to get ready for jobs and practical skills like learning carpentry.

“It’s all about letting young people know we are here for them and can help.”

Craig will serve as a peer mentor for young people in the programme, allowing him to speak with teenagers and help them turn their lives around.

Ally Scott, operations manager for SCE, added: “We wanted to get out onto the streets and have a peer mentor with lived experience talk to the young people and find a way to make sustainable change – that’s what the project is all about.

“We’ve been working with community police officers to identify young people and we want to engage with them and their families.

“We are able to see their potential and give them opportunities to gain and sustain potential job opportunities.”

Craig established himself in his role two months ago now and has already worked to make a difference to the lives of young people in Stirling.

He works alongside other Stirling organisations to tackle anti-social behaviour such as Go Forth’s Street Ambassadors, Stirling Street Pastors and community police officers.

One teenager explained how he had been inspired to enrol in college following support from the peer mentor programme.

He said: “I was part of a group who used to cause trouble and go climbing on the roof of the Thistles before I realised I needed help to change my ways and couldn’t keep on terrorising people.

“I’ve been working with Craig to improve my life and I’m trying to make amends now.

“I’ve separated myself from the group, am staying away from the police and going to college.”