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03 February 2020

London Youth welcomes the release by the London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) of strategic research that seeks to understand the complex causes and pervasive nature of violence in London.

Both build the evidence base and allow professionals, from youth workers in community youth organisations to the statutory services, to understand the problem they are facing and know where they can make the most difference.

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, Chief Executive of London Youth, said:

I welcome these reports, understand that in some areas more evidence is needed and also say now is the time for action. Youth professionals – and the families and communities they support – have watched this crisis unfold over many years of cuts in support and are tired of seeing ever more young people affected by violence.

As we look ahead to the Mayoral elections in May, I will be calling on all candidates to commit to retaining and improving the Young Londoners Fund, which was a lifeline to the London youth sector under this Mayor. Young people must be supported to form trusted relationships in high-quality spaces through positive activities.

I also want to see youth work-led employability and skills programmes with a focus on young Londoners from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as a key strand of activity. I feel this is currently not emphasised enough from a public health approach to reducing violence in London. The links between poverty and violence, and racial disproportionality in employment and in the experience of violence speak for themselves. Young people and the youth workers who support them consistently tell us that a lack of positive opportunities, economic pressures on families and struggling to access, good and sustained employment, contributes to young people becoming involved in violence and crime.”

Last week, Shanelle, who is a member of our Dare London youth advisory board, accompanied Rosemary to a steering meeting of the Violence Reduction Unit. Afterwards, Shanelle called for more young people with lived experience of violence to be involved in the response to violence:

Make [young people] actually involved in decision making. Not like how it usually is, everybody just meeting with some young people, and then taking what they like from it. Instead, actually making young people plan and being involved in co-production because it’s ultimately them who it will affect. Not even just young people in general, but actually young people who are affected because they’re the ones who need it. I just feel like it should be young people who are actually affected by violence in those meetings.


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Samuel Howell, Policy Officer