Here we go again
I am not talking about deal or no deal Brexit!
Another shooting, drive by style was committed in Birmingham and once again our lead consultant in youth and community engagement was on hand to speak with the family and console the many young people who were gathered, at the scene to pay their respects.
We do this because lives depend on it, we know that adverse childhood experiences and trauma, continue to have a detrimental effect on the lives of young people, we also know that therapeutic interventions are often overlooked by the families and sometimes seen as taboo.
Many of the young people already have social determinants stacked against them which make them more vulnerable than they realise for instance:
- Living in unsafe areas
- Single parenthood
- Negative School experiences, attainment
- Mental health
What is the plan?
Our new prime minister has announced that it is his personal responsibility, to tackle youth violence, but what does that mean? What does that look like for the hundreds of young people and their families that are affected?
When NHS hospital admissions for under 18-year olds is increasing by 87% in England and Wales and where the children’s commissioner says that the government must make youth violence a priority, with a large scale, long term plan; what exactly is the plan?
We have attended several vigils in the last few months where concerned parents don’t know where to turn and young people are beginning to think that this (Youth Violence) is a normal part of life. Surely, we need to look at the root causes of the issues, rather than employing another 20,000 police officers to seemingly arrest our way out of the situation, by carrying out more stop and search, which as we have previously seen only creates more tension and provokes the already fragile relationship between the police and young people.
The decision to create 10,000 more prison spaces where it costs just over £61,000 per year for a male young offender seems, absurd when local interventions delivered by small organisations, who firstly are culturally competent (they completely understand the young people they need to engage) and secondly have spent many years working on the ground delivering high quality and robust services, enabling the same young people who could have been lost to the system to instead, change their lives and use their experiences to challenge, inspire and motivate young people coming up. All of that for a fraction of the cost, in our organisation a typical intervention like that costs just £1000 per month.
Youth Violence is a storm, but we are committed…
I agree that there is no one way to answer the storm of youth violence, however we have to do something, organisations like ours and many others are stretched, but are committed to standing with families of this type of crime, to offer support, advocacy and advice, no parent should be in this situation, but the truth is many more will if we don’t work together to create an informed plan where families, local organisations, public sector services and the government are listening to each other and working together to create action plans to tackle the problem.
In this instance where the issues are in local communities it seems ridiculous that those are affected are not included in solving the problems but are instead called upon by the media to glamorise and sensationalise the story. For those parents they go back to their very real lives when the story has run its course, but what did that do to help? It may create a conversation over morning coffee, but what was the meaningful and tangible outcome for that parent?
This is my ask…
My ask is this, I want to see those who know and understand the territory, be included in decision making from the very top of government all the way down to the grass roots, and not to be invited to one-off meeting to tick a box. I would like to see co production in its truest sense of the word, whereby parties from various disciplines work together to think and plan the solutions to this issue.
This isn’t going to just disappear through section 60 and more policing,
neither will it vanish through opening spaces for young people alone. It will take a multidisciplinary, collective approach of grass roots organisations, local communities, groups, public sector, private sector, parents and teachers coming together to agree that things have got to change and enough is enough.
Sounds like a fairy-tale. As in most fairy tales good always conquers evil with teamwork and a sound plan.
For more information on the work we do at First Class Legacy visit http://sabrinadennis.org/portfolio/first-class-legacy/