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29 August 2018

On Tuesday 21st August, we held the latest meeting of our Tackling Youth Violence Network. The meeting was kindly hosted by the Young Westminster Foundation at the Abbey Centre.

The network, which has been running since 2012, is a unique forum in London that regularly brings together youth workers and other specialists involved in front-line youth violence programmes. It’s an opportunity for youth violence professionals to share best practice, to network and partner, and to connect with politicians and policymakers. The network is primarily aimed at London Youth members, but is open to any organisation or statutory service involved or interested in tackling youth violence in London.

Siân Berry AM

Siân Berry is a Green Party member of the London Assembly and a councillor for the Highgate ward of Camden. She chairs the Housing Committee and is a member of the Budget & Performance, GLA Oversight Committee, and Police and Crime Committees.

Siân spoke about her work campaigning for youth services at the London Assembly and her pleasure at seeing the Mayor announce the Young Londoners Fund, which provides £45 million to London’s youth sector over three years.

Siân has published her research into youth service cuts in London’s Lost Youth Services 2018. This report is based on freedom of information requests to London’s borough councils, to which 30 replied. The report shows that since 2011/12, 800 youth workers and 81 youth centres are no longer available to young people in London. The combined London local authority youth services budget is £39 million lower than it was in 2011/12, which amounts to an average cut of 44%.

Siân welcomed young people, youth workers, and youth organisations to get in touch with her.

Metropolitan Police Service

We were joined by five officers from the Met, including Ch Sup Dave Stringer, outgoing Head of Community.

Dave spoke about the increasing focus on youth engagement at the Met, which now has 300 full-time youth-focused officers working in schools or youth engagement teams. He highlighted the trouble with building trust and long-term relationships between officers, young people, and communities. He also noted difficulties with the framework for dealing with youth violence, such as insufficient structures for referring or signposting young people. He supported the Divert programme, noting that it is currently funded by charitable grant and would cost only £1.2 million to roll out across the whole city.

Other officers provided updates on the work of Safer Schools Officers, the Volunteer Police Cadets, and Westminster’s mental health teams. We also heard about a planned one month pilot of Westminster’s youth engagement model in Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham, which would see 3 sergeants and 27 officers working with young people in the three boroughs.

Young People’s Panel

Young people from Music Relief Foundation, Young Westminster Foundation, and Dare London, our youth advisory board, had the opportunity to ask Sian and Dave questions about youth violence.

They raised a number of important points about the experience of youth violence for young Londoners and also the underlying structural causes in our society.

Philip Barron, Young Westminster Foundation

Phil, the Chief Executive of Young Westminster Foundation, gave an overview of the foundation’s work and the particular challenges facing the borough.

The foundation is a Young People’s Foundation (YPF) for the borough of Westminster.  YPFs are place-based charities that lead the children and young people sector in their respective boroughs. The YPF model was developed by John Lyon’s Charity and supported by London Youth.

Young Westminster Foundation is a cross-sector partnership, creating a community of member and partner organisations. Together, they shape opportunities and create the best services for children and young people in Westminster.

Get in touch

Look out for the next Tackling Youth Violence Network meeting in November.

Samuel Howell, Policy Officer