Serious Youth Violence
Youth violence is currently one of the biggest issues in the UK.
A key focus for Community Regen has been working in neighbourhoods most affected by youth violence, supporting communities to reduce the impact of violence and to have a voice.
Summary of our work
Paul Bragman and Sian Penner have been working with a range of groups and communities across London and beyond to help tackle youth violence. Both Paul and Sian have extensive facilitation and support experience in the field of serious youth violence.
The approach we take is to focus on challenging power imbalances as well as addressing the needs of the community, both of which are fundamental for community development. The aim of this approach is to create:
- A more successful community response in managing the complexity of youth violence.
- A shared and collective approach to stopping the issue from increasing.
- Increased support for those involved or affected by youth violence.
Below are some examples of Paul and Sian’s recent work on youth violence.
GLA Sport Unites
Since July 2019, Paul Bragman and Sian Penner have been working together to support the GLA’s Sport Unites team with their Sport and Serious Youth Violence Steering Group. This was launched in the summer of 2019 and has continued throughout 2020. The goals of the steering group are to test and learn with organisations delivering sports activities about when and how sport can and should be used to help promote and support healthy life choices. Another goal is to gather evidence to inform the future planning and commissioning of GLA sports activities, and to inform policy and thinking to maximise benefits for young people.
The steering group came together for the first time in July 2019. Paul and Sian facilitated the day’s activities, which involved sharing learning from the different projects and organisations as well as identifying key themes to focus on for the coming year.
To kick this event off, there were speeches on serious youth violence from Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London), Debbie Weekes-Bernard (Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement) and Lib Peck (Head of the Violence Reduction Unit). Following this, the panel opened up to a Q&A session.
Following this, we have trained and supported young people to be the facilitators for workshops over the course of 2020. The young people facilitators have gained more confidence as workshops have gone by and they have created an excellent summary of the work thus far.
Communities Against Violence
Paul has worked with community groups to support them in addressing youth violence at a grassroots level. An example of this is our work with Haringey Communities Against Violence (HCAV), an umbrella organisation set up to help reduce violence and made up of local residents and people who work or have an interest in Haringey. Their approach is to provide a balance of early interventions, prevention, deterrents and support.
Paul has also worked with Community Development Foundation (CDF), who were commissioned by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to help develop a community voice in three London Boroughs (Lambeth, Haringey and Westminster).
The project aimed to reduce serious group and gang violence and focused on:
- Understanding the context within each borough.
- Building relationships with agencies and commissioners.
- Building relationships with contacts within the community, and identifying new ones.
- As appropriate according to borough need, facilitating community stakeholder meetings and seeking ideas and actions in order to make constructive change and sustainable progress that can be continued.
Addressing Youth Exploitation and Violence Summit – July
In July 2019, the Addressing Youth Exploitation and Violence Summit took place at the St Pancras Community Association in London. The summit was organised by Paul Bragman and Sian Penner who aimed to bring together Big Local areas previously affected by youth exploitation and violence to share their experiences on how to reduce both these issues in communities. The summit also served as an opportunity to inform future events scheduled for later in the year.
During the day the participants got involved in a variety of exercises and discussions, including:
- The nation-wide picture of youth exploitation and violence.
- Progress against youth exploitation and violence in their Big Local areas.
- What different groups are doing to reduce youth exploitation and violence.
- The potential role of Big Local groups in helping to reduce youth exploitation and violence.
There were vibrant discussions and a great amount of shared learning. One particular highlight of the day was the ‘panel of experts Q&A’, where the Big Local areas could ask for information and advice on their specific difficulties from experts in the issues around youth exploitation and violence.
Addressing Youth Exploitation and Violence Summit – November
In November 2019, the second Addressing Youth Exploitation and Violence Summit took place at St Luke’s Church. The summit was organised by Paul Bragman and Sian Penner and aimed to bring together Big Local areas affected by youth exploitation and violence to share their experiences on how to reduce youth exploitation and violence. The purpose of the event was to:
- Share examples of what communities are doing for themselves to reduce violence.
- Provide practical support and advice to participants on ways to reduce violence in their neighbourhoods.
- Share how communities can link into their Violence Reduction Units and access local support and resources.
- Explore the role young people can play in reducing violence in their neighbourhoods.
The summit was co-produced and co-facilitated by Florence, Ahmed Mohammad and Javaun Bance, who are all Peer Outreach Workers at the Greater London Assembly (GLA).
There were vibrant discussions and a great amount of shared learning. This was particularly the case when discussing different scenarios and questions about how Big Local areas can have a role in helping to address these issues.
GLA Community Engagement
In 2018, Paul and Sian were commissioned by the GLA to develop a Community Engagement Plan on Serious Youth Violence (SYV). The aim of this was to build on and strengthen existing community engagement work around SYV across GLA teams. Paul and Sian co-produced the plan with six GLA teams, with the aim of aligning their community engagement activity to strengthen the overall GLA offer, practise and impact around community engagement for SYV in London.
To develop this plan, Paul and Sian observed and collected information from various organisations and groups who attended GLA Education and Youth and Community Engagement Teams’ events. There were also one-to-one conversations with 16 team members across six GLA teams, as well as ongoing discussions with the Community Engagement Team. Throughout the development of the plan we also ran a series of presentations, workshops and discussions with the SYV Officers Working Group and GLA teams.
A large amount of evidence resulted from this work to develop the plan, providing useful insight on:
- What is being done already.
- What organisations feel still needs to be done.
- How they can work with other partners to achieve the project aims.
The work also highlighted a shift in perspective towards viewing SYV as a public health issue as well as a crime and order issue. Following this work, Paul and Sian began the Sport Unite project with the GLA.
Local Trust Learning Cluster
Throughout 2018 and into early 2019, Paul and Sian were commissioned by Local Trust to run a series of learning events called the Local Trust Address Youth Exploitation and Violence Cluster.
Paul and Sian are experienced facilitators for Local Trust events and other community organisations as well as being Big Local reps for Local Trust. For this series of learning events Paul and Sian applied their knowledge and understanding of SYV.
The aims of the learning cluster were to encourage and support participants to test ideas, draw on the skills and experience of others, and develop networks and support structures around serious youth exploitation and violence. The guiding principle for the learning cluster was action-learning based; This enabled participants to increase their confidence and feel more equipped to address complicated issues around youth exploitation and violence in their areas.
The learning cluster topics were guided by the needs of the participants and the knowledge they were hoping to gain from the events. In the first session they identified a range of subjects and topic areas to focus on. The identified subjects and topics were then discussed and analysed in the second session.
The Big Local areas then updated their action plans using the information gained from this experience-sharing and peer-to-peer learning. These action plans could then be used address issues of SYV and youth exploitation in their own communities. In the final workshop, the participants reviewed the learning from the cluster and any support needs going forward, and then ended on how to take the learning and work into their Big Local areas.