£2million committed by Islington Council to help tackle serious youth violence
Specialist charities have been commissioned by the Islington Labour-run council to help tackle the root causes and consequences of serious youth violence in the borough.
Despite the massive financial challenges faced in Islington, with the government cutting funding in half since 2010, in February the council’s budget prioritised the future of young people. Alongside this additional £500,000 investment each year for the next four years, the council also protected existing budgets for youth services.
The decision to focus on young people came about because of the surge in serious youth violence over the last 12 months, including the tragic deaths of several young people and serious incidents as a result of youth crime in the borough.
Cllr Richard Watts said, “As leaders of the community, we have a responsibility to make sure vital services are in place at times of difficulty, even if we are facing massive cuts by the Tory government.
“This means investing in our young people. Islington’s young people are energetic, vibrant and full of potential, and the overwhelming majority stay clear of trouble. But to those at risk or those involved in crime, we want to offer them these opportunities as a way out”
The council introduced a new Youth Crime Strategy earlier this year, made changes to the Youth Offending Service and brought in a new specialised Integrated Gangs Unit that works with staff across different sectors and organisations on youth crime and will be a recipient of some of the funding.
However, the Labour-run council wanted to go further than this, by putting £500,000 a year into available services in the community, over the next four years. These specific projects will be targeted at young people in gangs and those at risk of joining them. Young people will also get a chance to have a say on what is missing and what type of services they want.
The extra funding will go to Chance UK, St Giles Trust and Safer London. Each of these organisations target a wide range of young people and offer them the opportunity to speak about issues with those who have been exposed to gang life, as well as offering training opportunities to improve their life skills, such as self-confidence and behavioural skills.
Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Young people, said: “Gang crime and serious youth violence is not only very damaging for those involved, but also harms their families and our wider society.
“To stop this requires a two-pronged approach. These projects and independent experts will help us direct significant efforts at encouraging tomorrow’s gang members to take an alternative path and turn their backs on crime, while also helping those already mired in that harmful lifestyle to get out.”
The Council will also be maintaining the Islington Bursary – set at £300 a year for each young person- to help disadvantaged young people go to college as well as other training and employment support.
Young people will also have the opportunity to access counselling services in order to overcome the effects of growing up around gang culture.
The council has also commissioned a project that looks at supporting young people who have experienced sexual exploitation in gangs.
If you are interested in becoming mentors and helping a child make positive behaviour changes, Chance UK would like to hear from you. For more information please see www.chanceuk.com
Pictured – Cllr Joe Caluori