Youth workers are to be embedded in A&E departments across London in an effort to divert young victims of violence away from crime as part of a £7.8 million investment from City Hall.
Initial data from the past two years shows that as many as 800 young people have engaged with youth workers operating in emergency departments, receiving mental health support as well as help with housing, education, training or employment in a bid to divert them away from crime.
The programme, funded by City Hall and London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), is based on the premise that young people are most receptive to changing their behaviour immediately after arriving at hospital with injuries.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said London is “bucking the national trend” with crime falling in London, but that “more needs to be done in partnership to continue making progress”.
He said: “Partnership work from prevention to enforcement is vital to tackling violence and the work my VRU does alongside the NHS and its violence reduction programme is a fantastic example of working together to identify opportunities to intervene early to divert young people and help them access positive life opportunities.”
The VRU’s £7.8 million investment will see youth workers continue to be embedded in A&E departments in eight hospitals across London, as well as four Major Trauma Centres.
Youth workers will operate from A&E departments in Newham General Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Croydon University Hospital, University Hospital Lewisham, Whittington Hospital, North Middlesex Hospital, St Thomas’ Hospital and Homerton University Hospital.
There will also be youth workers embedded in Major Trauma Centres at Kings College, St George’s, St Mary’s and The Royal London Hospital.
Martin Griffiths, Consultant Trauma and Vascular Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust and National Clinical Director for Violence Reduction (NHS England), said the commitment of additional funding is “testament to the impact these programmes have had in changing the lives of those affected by violence”.
He said: “The additional funding guarantees that specialist support is delivered in sync with the expert medical care that our dedicated NHS clinical teams provide and ensures the best outcomes for young people affected by interpersonal injury.”
A total of 12 teenagers have been stabbed to death in London so far in 2022, while last year was the worst on record for teenage homicides with 30 killings.