• Friday, August 19, 2022

News

Sadiq Khan’s additional funding for VRU to build on MyEnds community-led programme progress

The VRU is investing £3.9 million to deliver better support for young people online.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday (12) announced his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is to invest a further £9 million in its flagship community-led programme to tackle violence and deliver positive opportunities for young people.

The VRU’s MyEnds programme provides support and funding for communities to lead and deliver interventions in neighbourhoods affected by high and sustained levels of violence across London.

The mayor’s boost in funding means the VRU can build on the programme, which has been delivered in eight areas of London: Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

It comes as new VRU data shows that in its first year, the MyEnds programme:

  • Delivered more than 120 local interventions; and
  • Benefited 3,100 young people and community members

Interventions included:

  • 1331 after-school activities delivered to support young people
  • 1900 mentoring sessions delivered as part of an intervention

The new funding will allow the VRU to learn and build on the promising first year of the programme and invest £9m over the next three years in communities and neighbourhoods.

The Violence Reduction Unit will work with the current eight consortiums and the local authorities to ensure the programme is even more effective and will continue to use evidence and intelligence to ensure projects are operating in the areas they are needed most.

Alongside this, due to increased funding from the mayor, the VRU is investing a further £3.9 million over the next three years in its programme to tackle online harms, which provides training for frontline practitioners to better understand and support young people when online and using social media.

Initial data shows that last year 255 frontline practitioners, which includes youth workers, police, and others, completed training. Out of those who took part, 94 per cent had increased understanding of social media and how young people engage with it, while 9 out of 10 had increased understanding of safeguarding risks online.

The new funding is in response to a report published by the VRU last year that looked at the impact on young people who were exposed to explicit content online. Research revealed that during lockdown, two-thirds of young people interviewed had seen content online that was either violent or explicit.*

On Tuesday, Khan visited the MyEnds group in Lambeth. The consortium works with communities on the Angell Town, Loughborough and Moorlands estates. Sadiq got to see first-hand some of the work being done by local community-led groups, including Ebony Horse Club, which uses horse riding, care and youth work as positive diversionary paths away from violence, and the ML Community Enterprise, which delivers programmes, youth work and mentoring at the Marcus Lipton Youth Club in Brixton.

“Tackling violence and making our city safer is my number one priority. My approach in London has been to be both tough on violence and tough on the complex causes of violence. I’ve supported the police by putting 1,300 more officers on our streets to help suppress violence in local areas and have helped to elevate police officer numbers to their highest levels in history,” Khan said, adding, “I set up London’s Violence Reduction Unit in 2019 to lead an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention. I’ve continued to back this approach and, this year, my VRU is working to support and provide positive opportunities for 70,000 young Londoners.

“Thanks to our approach, we have seen some progress. There is still a lot more to do, but London is now bucking the national trend, with violent crime falling since 2016.

“My new funding means that the VRU can build on the early progress of the neighbourhood-focused MyEnds programme by giving communities the backing and support to deliver solutions to reduce violence – both now and in the long-term.”

Lib Peck, director of London’s VRU, said, “We believe violence is preventable, not inevitable. We listen to local people and work alongside communities to deliver change, reduce violence and support young people and families.

“A key part of our approach is to learn from research and local intelligence to test what works and then build on it.

“Our eight MyEnds groups are beginning to deliver important interventions, and research we’ve published today backs up why we give communities the resources and support they need to deliver neighbourhood solutions to violence.

“It’s really important to have the continued support and funding from the Mayor that allows us to work in partnership with others across London as we strive to deliver the sustained reductions in violence we all want to see in our city.”

Margaret Pierre, co-CEO of ML Community Enterprise at Marcus Lipton Youth Centre, said: “The My Ends programme has enabled our organisations to have deeper connections with the communities we serve and statutory organisations including the police, local authority and smaller grassroots organisations, where we have built trust and improved communication.

“My Ends has given us the opportunity to develop a new approach to address serious violence in the Coldharbour Area where local organisations, the community and statutory partners can work together and begin to tackle violence. Thereby maximising on the resources and assets available to affect change for young people in the Coldharbour area.

“This foundation, which includes developing Young Leaders and building community capacity, will be the legacy that Ecosystem Coldharbour will leave behind at the end of the two years. We hope that the new relationships, networks and partnerships developed by Ecosystem will be built on to impact violence in the area.”

Abdoul Lelo Ndambi, a Youth Leader at Marcus Lipton Youth Centre, said: “MyEnds introduced me to people that are like me, who would love to see change in our community. Some of them live very close but without MyEnds we wouldn’t have known that we weren’t alone in this. We’ve built foundations that will pave our way to make the changes we would like to see.”

Sidony Holdsworth, COO at Ebony Horse Club, said: “Here at Ebony we are constantly working to improve the lives of young people across Lambeth. We believe that access to opportunity shouldn’t be dictated by postcode, or by background. By giving access to horses we seek to improve the physical and mental well-being of our young people, but also develop key life skills – confidence, empathy, resilience.

“Being a part of the MyEnds consortium means that we can harness the power we have in our community, and work collaboratively towards building better outcomes for our young people and their support networks.”

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