Hospital youth work initiatives in line for funds

Joanne Parkes
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Youth work support at London hospital accident and emergency (A&E) units has been earmarked for a share of a £20m cash injection from council tax rises.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised the extra funds for initiatives including those tackling gang-related violence and supporting crime prevention work in A&Es.

A number of charity-run initiatives have been working with hospitals across the country in recent years, with strong evidence that they help avert offending.

Participating hospitals have previously included North Middlesex in north London, Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre, and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Research carried out in 2016, The Impact of a Dedicated Youth Worker in a Paediatric Accident and Emergency, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that one project had "successfully engaged young people attending A&E secondary to aggression and violence" and claimed that support was being offered to "vulnerable young people whose lives can be turned around".

Charity Redthread is among the organisations which have been working in hospital casualty units across the country in recent years, under its youth violence intervention programme.

Teams meet 11- to 24-year-old victims of serious assault including stabbings, gun crime, sexual assault and domestic violence, and offer their services.

Another charity, London-based Oasis, collaborated with St Thomas' Hospital to create the ongoing Oasis Youth Support (OYS) service, which works with 12- to 24-year-olds in Lambeth and Southwark.

They can be referred to OYS by A&E and hospital staff, receiving one-to-one support from a youth worker who, according to the charity, "helps them to explore the reasons for their referral and identify areas of personal development - steering them away from further violence and aggression, and into safe and positive futures".

Khan said the budget had been put together under "extraordinarily difficult circumstances" including cuts to the Metropolitan Police.

"However, despite these challenges, this budget will quickly deliver tangible results to Londoners' lives," said the mayor.

"In the face of crippling government cuts to the Met Police and key preventative services, my budget invests record amounts to support policing and to tackle crime."

The pot of money is from an extra £234m forecast to be collected from council tax increases and business rates, with the budget due to be agreed by the London Assembly.

The mayor's office said the recipient and amount of youth crime prevention funding has not yet been allocated and an announcement will be made in due course.

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