Violence Intervention Programme reaches out to 250 young people
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A pioneering service, which supports young victims of violence at the Leicester Royal Infirmary has reached nearly 250 young people since it started in February 2020.
Leicestershire’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN) has invested £250,000 into the Violence Intervention Project, or VIP, which supports young people attending hospital with violence-related injuries.
The project is delivered by Turning Point - a social and health care services provider. Its specially trained workers are based in A&E and offer support and mentorship to young people who have been admitted with injuries arising from violence including knife-related injuries. This is known as a ‘reachable moment’ when a victim is more likely to accept help whilst they are in a safe space away from the context in which the injury occurred. It provides an opportunity to ensure they stay safe and make positive progress in their lives. The workers can put them in touch with a wide range of organisations and services and be an advocate for them too.
In early 2021 a seventeen-year-old young man was admitted to the LRI after being attacked by several men. He was already known to the police as a victim of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). An initial assessment showed he had previously been arrested for causing criminal damage and was found in possession of a bag of Class ‘A’ drugs and was currently struggling with education and employment. He told the Turning Point workers that he regularly carried weapons and knives as a protective measure because of his situation.
Initially the young man was very cautious about the information he gave to his VIP worker, however the worker was able to build his trust which led to him disclosing information that he had not previously disclosed to the police or other agencies. The VIP worker established that he really wanted to get back into education to learn a trade or vehicle mechanics. He also wanted to be involved in extra-curricular sports and improve his peer group as his only friends were associated with the drug trade.
In June 2021, through the VIP, he got a place to study music alongside English and Maths. His attendance and attitude to learning was excellent and he is now in full time education. As a result, he was able to widen his peer group, establish a more structured daily routine and through the VIP he was able to go to a sports and boxing gym once a week for six weeks. Since then he has not been involved in any other offending; not had any other violent encounters. He no longer carries weapons and feels a lot safer out in the community.
Grace Strong, Strategic Director of the Violence Reduction Network said; “As this case study shows the Violence Intervention Project can make a real difference to young people, supporting them to change their future for the better. The VIP workers are dedicated to really understanding and harnessing the strengths of young people and working closely with them to build a positive future. It not only benefits the young person but all of us as our children, young people and communities are safer as a result.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Drummond, from the force’s Violent and Complex Crime Unit, said; “The Violence Intervention Programme is a great example of why it is so important we work in partnership to engage with victims. Making sure the right people talk to victims at the right time can make the difference between that person reoffending or finding the help and support they need to make positive steps to a brighter future.”
Caroline Gadsby the Partnerships Manager for Turning Point said; “Turning Point have been working in the hospital as part of the Violence Intervention Project over the last 18 months and we have seen the difference it can make to the young people we work with.
“Whilst we are a reasonably new project we have continued to reach out to young people during Covid and we have learnt a lot along the way that has helped us shape the service. Going forward we will be able to build on what we know and use that knowledge to further improve the support we can offer in ‘the reachable moment’. The work that we do with support from the Violence Reduction Network is important and makes such a difference to young people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”
Rupert Matthews, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who funds the VRN, said: “Violence, and knife crime in particular, must be addressed from all corners. This project shows the added value that Violence Reduction Unit brings to this battle. Enforcement alone will not eradicate violence, we must change attitudes. It is not ‘normal’ to carry a knife. It is not ‘safer’ to carry a knife – in fact that increases the risk of serious harm.
“As this example illustrates, mindsets can be changed, and we must invest in that to make Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland safer for future generations.”
If you are looking for help and support, please visit Leicestershire Police’s website. If you are a concerned family member or friend there is also information on the website to help you. Why not start the conversation today using our a 10 step guide?
This week Leicestershire Police is joining police forces up and down the country to support ‘Operation Sceptre’ – a week-long national campaign aimed at tackling knife crime.
Taking place between Monday 15 November and Sunday 21 November 2021, Operation Sceptre will see the police service across the UK highlighting the risks that carrying a bladed weapon can bring, as well as targeting offenders who use and carry knives in the area.
Follow the campaign on social media via the #OpSceptre hashtag.