Youth offending schemes share multi-million pound fund

By Joanne Parkes

| 10 October 2019

Twenty two projects including local authority-run schemes will share a £16.2m pot aimed at preventing youth offending.

Projects that aim to develop young people's social-emotional skills are among those set to receive funding. Picture: Adobe Stock/Motortion

In the first grant award round of the £200m Home Office-funded Youth Endowment Fund, the winning schemes range from intensive family therapy to street-based and school mentoring programmes.

Some 30,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 14 will receive support from the fund, run by charities the Early Intervention Foundation and Impetus.

Projects across England and Wales include adapted programmes from other parts of the world, as well as new innovations.

They will be evaluated to find the most effective ways of preventing youth offending, and more grant rounds will be announced in the coming months.

A London based project, Becoming a Man, run by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to develop social-emotional skills and encourage positive anger expression through a trauma-informed counselling project, men's rites of passage work and a dynamic approach to youth engagement.

In Yorkshire, Branching Out, run by Wakefield Council Youth Work Team, connects with vulnerable young people in schools and communities, to build their confidence and resilience and help raise their aspirations.

The extra funding will mean the programme can provide long term support throughout the year, including mentoring that will be delivered by youth workers in schools and in communities.

Lancashire-based Pause 4 Thought, managed by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, aims to address early stage criminality. Informed by principles taken from cognitive behavioural therapy, this project teaches young people to recognise warning signs that could lead to harm and how to respond effectively to stay out of trouble.  

Nottinghamshire Police initiative DARE 25 works with younger children to teach them about the dangers of knife and hate crime and about making informed choices about substance use. 

It teaches key social and cognitive skills to reduce engagement in risky behaviours, based around the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) decision-making model.

Youth Endowment Fund chair Sir Kevan Collins, said: "The safety and wellbeing of young people is our first priority. 

"Our first round of grants is the start of a 10-year programme of work designed to build a better understanding of what works to prevent young people being drawn into crime and a violence."

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS immediate past president, praised the fund for its evidence-based focus which helps maximise "scarce public funds".

However, in the context of cuts to youth services, he raised concerns that it is a distraction from the need for "proper, sustainable investment".

Gallimore said: "While additional support and investment in preventing children and young people from being drawn into crime and violence is a positive thing, not all children will benefit from today's announcement. 

We urgently need proper, sustainable and equitable investment in all children that enables local authorities to meet their needs now and in the future. 

"The government's current approach to funding is not conducive to this agenda, for example, children's services face a £3.1bn funding gap by 2025 and there are several small pots of funding for some local authorities to trial different ways of working but the next logical step never materialises - the national roll out of successful programmes, with adequate funding from government to match. 

"This would not only enable us to improve children's life chances and outcomes, it's a smart fiscal policy too. 

"Helping children and families earlier, before their needs escalate, reducing pressure on high end, more costly services. 

"We hope the Treasury recognises this in time for the Spending Review."

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