fbpx Media release: Rise Up Youth Practitioners’ Leadership Programme - London Youth

05 June 2020


London Violence Reduction Unit to invest £550,000 in the London Youth-led partnership to deliver new leadership programme for youth practitioners supporting young people affected by violence.


London Youth in partnership with Leap Confronting Conflict and Clore Social Leadership will implement Rise Up – an innovative leadership programme for high-potential youth practitioners in London, funded by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

From September 2020, one hundred youth practitioners who are actively supporting vulnerable young people directly affected by violence will join the Youth Practitioners’ Leadership Programme.

The year-long programme aims to invest in the untapped leadership potential amongst London’s youth sector practitioners, recognising the capital’s youth sector infrastructure requires investment in its people to support young Londoners through the difficult years ahead. This programme launches just as many young people face new and ongoing challenges as the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected young people’s mental health and future prospects. In this context, and with the number people losing their lives to violence in London reaching a ten year high in 2019, this investment in youth sector leadership is vital.

London’s VRU has invested £550,000 into the development of this new programme, recognising that youth work plays a positive and often pivotal role in young people’s lives. Youth practitioners are instrumental in steering the most disadvantaged young Londoners away from activity which put them at risk of violence, and providing frontline support to young people directly or indirectly affected by violence.

An innovative new Youth Practitioners’ Leadership Programme

The Rise Up Programme will actively recruit one hundred frontline practitioners, many of whom will have lived experiences that enables them to connect with young people most at risk.

Participants will be selected from across the London Youth network and London’s wider youth sector, with the bespoke programme designed to recognise the broad skill set needed to deliver and lead youth services for young people at risk of, or affected by, violence.

They will be youth practitioners who show potential for sector leadership and influence in their communities, but who themselves face barriers to progressing into formal leadership roles. For example:

  • They may have spent their careers supporting young people but haven’t had the opportunity to access formal youth work qualifications.
  • They may not have been able to undertake professional development training, due to the significant cuts to funding that youth organisations have endured.
  • They may feel uncomfortable in more traditional leadership programme settings.

Youth practitioners recruited for the programme will undergo 26 days of training across the year, timetabled to work around their commitments. Core modules will include: trauma-informed practice, change management, mental health first aid, contextual & transitional safeguarding and business planning. Other training sessions in specialist and general practice and personal development will also be available.

Participants will have access to mentoring and coaching with established voluntary youth sector leaders from across the London Youth network and, on completion of the programme, they will also have access to an Innovation Fund to implement change in their community to benefit young people experiencing violence.

Implementation and Impact

Rise Up will be designed and delivered in partnership with Leap Confronting Conflict who bring expertise in delivering specialist training, and Clore Social Leadership who have an established third-sector leadership development model.

This programme is to be led by London Youth, a network of 550+ community youth organisations delivering youth services in every borough across the capital, who:

  • Provide capacity building support to community youth organisations.
  • Deliver sports and employability programmes targeting young people at risk of violence. Future Talent and Headstart Action programmes introduce young people to positive employment pathways and future career opportunities.
  • London Youth’s Tackling Youth Violence Network, now in its seventh year, brings together youth organisations, statutory services and policy makers across London to share best practice and provide enhanced and better connected interventions in communities across London.

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

Members of London Youth’s network of community youth organisations have been determined and innovative in responding on the frontline to COVID-19. These organisations are driven by youth practitioners who are deeply invested in and trusted by their communities and the young people they support.

“Our Leadership Programme will actively seek out and invest in 100 youth workers with the untapped potential to be voluntary sector leaders of the future. In the aftermath of COVID-19, London’s communities will need local leadership now more than ever”

Lib Peck, Director of the Violence Reduction Unit said:

It is now more vital than ever that we invest further in preventing crime, counter the root causes of violence and deliver early intervention that we know helps prevent tragedies.

“Youth workers on the frontline have the lived experience and relationships to deliver those early interventions that can make all the difference, but they need better professional training to unlock their potential and make the most of their role which will benefit young people.

“Our investment in the youth worker leadership programme will empower those at the heart of tackling the underlying issues behind violence in our city, particularly in the most affected areas, helping us to deliver long term solutions for young people and reduce violence across London.”

Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive for Leap Confronting Conflict said:

Before COVID-19 it was a challenging time for many young people; street violence and school exclusions have been rising in recent years. The pandemic now presents new challenges to the education, freedoms and employment prospects of young people. Supporting young people has never been more important.

“We want to create a world in which young people are not only safe but are also able to thrive and fulfil their potential. We want young people to have a powerful voice in shaping this new and rapidly changing world. So I am delighted that Leap Confronting Conflict, London Youth, and Clore Social Leadership can come together to share experience and resources that enrich and connect youth practitioners across the capital, enabling best practice in our responses to the needs of young people.”

Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive for Clore Social Leadership said:

Now more than ever, leadership is fundamental to how we respond to challenges, whether that’s in organisations, our communities or wider society. Social leadership is not a title or a status but a set of attitudes, skills and behaviours that are deployed to achieve a positive outcome.

“Our youth workers deploy their leadership with compassion and passion every day in some of the most challenging contexts, especially when working to reduce violence. Often these youth workers do not recognise what they do on a daily basis as leadership, we want to reach those youth workers. Those with untapped potential who, given the chance to further develop their skills, hone their behaviours and build a community of other dedicated youth workers, will continue to create the safe spaces that young people need to thrive.

“Combining the expertise of the partners in youth work, conflict and leadership development we believe this bespoke programme will offer those who participate in the programme will receive a learning experience that has the rigour of other youth work qualifications but the added benefit of peer learning and real-world application that will continue as a legacy for the youth sector beyond on the length of the formal programme.”

Notes to editors:

For more information on the Leadership Programme or for media interviews with London Youth and participating youth organisations, please contact Gill Goodby, Head of Policy and Communications at London Youth on 07736 619 606 or gill.goodby@londonyouth.org and Glenn Pearson, Senior Press Officer at the Greater London Authority at glenn.pearson@london.gov.uk.

  • In April 2020, London Youth facilitated a focus group with the VRU and nine members (including Leap Confronting Conflict) to ‘feed-up’ the experiences of youth practitioners who’ve been providing support to young people under COVID-19 Government guidance. The discussion spanned the digital divide, challenges of remote youth work provision particularly for those unsafe at home, county lines and the mental health impact of lockdown on young Londoners living in poverty.

London Youth is a charity on a mission to improve the lives of young Londoners. Through their network of 500+ community youth organisations they provide capacity building and training to youth practitioners, with their Bronze Quality Mark being a condition of securing a Young Londoners Fund grant from the GLA. Last year they delivered programmes to 27,000+ young people in their network. Their Future Talent and HeadStart Action employability programmes seek to inspire young people about future career options, recognising that a lack of positive employment pathways is intrinsically linked with rising violence involving young people.


Clore Social Leadership develops leaders with a social purpose so that they can transform their communities, organisations and the world around them. Established as a charity in 2010 and a community of over 1,000 social leaders who have engaged and continue to engage in leadership development as catalysts for social change.

Leap Confronting Conflict (Leap) has, for over 30 years designed programmes to transform the way conflict is managed by young people and the adults who support them. By developing creative and adaptable approaches, Leap supports young people to deal with immediate issues, whilst also addressing some of the longer term, systematic patterns of behaviour that lead to violent and destructive expressions of conflict. Leap’s programmes are designed to support young people growing up in care, in education and/or at risk of exclusion, in inner-city communities and within the secure estate or prisons.

The Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit was set up in 2018 to take a fundamentally different approach to tackling violence – one where specialists from health, police, local government, schools, probation, youth services, and community organisations all work together to tackle violence and its underlying causes. The VRU provides London with greater capacity, expertise, and coordination to identify the root causes of violence and deliver early interventions to help prevent its spread. Operating on the basis that the best time to stop violence is before it starts, the VRU invests in London’s young people and communities and the services they rely on in order to expand opportunity for all.

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