Our statement on the Mayor’s public health approach
19 September 2018
London Youth strongly supports Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s commitment to lead on delivering a public health approach on serious violence for young Londoners.
We acknowledge that this is only the first step in delivering a safer city for young Londoners. That will require the serious and sustained support of every stakeholder in the city. The Youth Violence Commission has shown violence is deeply rooted in poverty and a lack of positive opportunities for young people and therefore there are no quick solutions.
Youth organisations and youth work professionals have always been committed to being part of the solution to tackling youth violence. With local knowledge and trusted relationships in every community in London, youth workers are uniquely placed. They are the ones providing day to day frontline support to young people caught up in violence.
London Youth has been running our Tackling Youth Violence Network for policymakers and youth professionals since 2012 because we truly believe the only solution is one that includes all stakeholders working together.
While youth organisations stand ready to work in partnership to tackle youth violence, they need sufficient investment to be effective. The Mayor’s investment through the Young Londoners Fund has been a welcome relief, but it cannot replace the 800 youth workers lost since 2011/12 or the £39 million less spent every year on youth services across the capital.
It will be important that the Home Office commits to supporting a public health approach in London, as part of their increased focus on prevention and early intervention outlined in their Serious Violence Strategy.
There are questions still to be answered on how London’s Violence Reduction Unit will operate. We appreciate that there will be challenges in adapting the lessons from Glasgow to London’s much larger population and more layered government arrangements. We will continue to work with the Mayor to ensure youth organisations and young people have a seat at the table.
In response to the Mayor’s commitment, we are calling for a serious and sustained partnership that recognises the critical role youth organisations will play to tackle youth violence in London.
Rosemary Watt-Wyness, Chief Executive of London Youth said:
“London Youth welcomes the Mayor’s commitment to lead a public health partnership approach to tackling violence, whilst recognising the complex challenges of applying the model to the London context. We know through our work that violence is deep rooted in poverty and a lack of positive employment and other opportunities for our young people.
Youth organisations and youth workers have long been committed to being part of the solution through a multi-agency approach. Our 400+ community youth organisations work with young people who are both directly and indirectly impacted by violence.
The targeted approach which has been proposed to reach those actively engaged with violence is essential; so too is open access and early intervention youth work delivered by community youth organisations to support those who are indirectly affected by and living in fear of violence in their area. We should not under-estimate the importance and value to young Londoners of having safe spaces like their local youth club to go where they feel safe.”
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive of LEAP Confronting Conflict said:
“We are supportive of a public health approach that focuses on treatment and behaviour change, rather than only punishment. By understanding what lies behind violence we can support young people at crucial moments in their lives – when they are excluded from school, affected by poor relationships and family breakdowns, bullied, experiencing trauma or victims of violence themselves.
It is vital that young people are at the heart of any work, whether that’s developing a strategy, designing programmes, leading on interventions or monitoring and evaluation. Without their voices a key part of the jigsaw will always be missing.”
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