Gina Radford, Maxine Cockett, Nick Thompson and Rowan Hinds
Youth workers are taking to the streets to positively engage with young people in their own environment as part of a drive to reduce violent crime.
The new detached youth work outreach programme recognises that some young people don’t access traditional youth clubs – so instead it sends trained professionals to go out to meet young people in their own neighbourhoods.
The aim is to talk to young people, signpost them to local youth services and, where appropriate, refer them into social care, or to drug and alcohol services – taking a public health approach to safeguarding them and reducing the risk of them engaging in violent crime.
The innovative concept is being led by the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Partnership and was launched in April in three areas of Nottingham where local partners at Nottinghamshire Police and Nottingham City Council believe it may have an impact.
Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges has been working in the Bilborough area, and is set to move to Radford and Hyson Green at the end of this month.
Al-Hurraya has been working in Sneinton but will move to Aspley next.
Youth workers from Evolve have been operating in Bulwell, where they will remain for at least another 12 weeks.
Maxine Cockett, of Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges, said her organisation had years of experience in engaging with young people on the streets of Nottingham city centre and always operated in a respectful way that, as their name suggests, breaks down barriers and builds bridges.
“We are coming to young people in their space. We have to respect their space, and respect is a two-way thing,” she said.
“Young people respond to how they are treated. When we go into an area or situation with a good presence, they engage with us, because we are coming with love, and we are not the police, we are youth workers.”
Maxine added that the detached youth work outreach programme helped to reach young people who may not otherwise engage with conventional youth services.
“The detached teams engage with many young people out on the streets, we give them information, leaflets and phone numbers. Once they’ve seen your face for a while they come up and speak to you,” she said.
The Violence Reduction Partnership brings together specialists from local government, health, education, policing and criminal justice to work with communities and the third sector to reduce serious violence and tackle its underlying causes.
It takes a public health approach to reducing violent crime, focusing on what will make a difference to whole populations, communities and groups.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “The detached youth outreach programme is really innovative and recognises that there is no one-size-fits all answer to youth work.
“Different people engage in different ways and by rolling out this project we are trying to meet the diverse needs of young people across our communities.
“The flexible model also allows us to put resources where they are most needed at any one time, with guidance from our police and council partners, to support at-risk young people and reduce serious violence.”
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion, Cllr Sajid Mohammed, said: “Engaging with young people where they are and on their terms is an important way to not only tackle issues like engagement in violent crime, but also to protect them as potential victims.
“This is a project that takes a holistic approach by ensuring that young people can get plugged into a wide range of support services from a number of partner organisations.”
Posted on Wednesday 19th July 2023