Home Office Serious Violence Strategy – St Giles Trust’s response
In the wake of a week when nine people in the capital have tragically lost their lives, St Giles Trust welcomes the Serious Violence Strategy announced by The Home Office today (9 April 2018) and considers it a pragmatic and practical approach towards tackling a complex issue.
We believe that a cross-Government response is also needed to address some of the systemic societal issues which help drive serious violence. These include poor housing, exclusion from mainstream education, cuts to youth and support services and lack of stable, sustainable employment.
However, today’s announcement from The Home Office gives us good news. We particularly welcome the support for prevention through the Early Intervention Youth Fund and measures to nationally co-ordinate county lines interventions through the National County Line Co-ordination Centre.
St Giles Trust’s SOS Project has 11 years of experience in working with young people involved in gangs and serious youth violence. Through our schools-based work on the SOS+ Project we offer preventive work with young people through providing them with the skills and knowledge to stay safe. Our experience tells us that an alarming number of children and young people carry a weapon in the belief it offers protection.
Our partnership work in the Royal London Hospital’s Major Trauma Centre helps young victims of serious violence and offers these very vulnerable young patients care and support to access other services, engage with education and employment opportunities and reduce the risk of re-admissions.
Insights from our frontline staff on the SOS Project tell us that county lines activity is a key driver behind serious violence as drug gangs adopt increasingly brutal tactics. Sadly, those at the sharp end are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
Junior Smart, founder of St Giles Trust’s SOS Project, said:
“For too long, people have been living in fear. The type of violence we have been witnessing has had a ripple effect on whole communities and sadly many people have innocently lost their lives through simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“We know from our own experience working in communities affected that people with cultural competence – people who have lived in the communities and have been there themselves – are the best individuals to offer credible and professional support. Our caseworkers act as a bridge with the rest of society and help those affected get their voices heard. We also know that prevention is key in helping some of the most at risk children and young people stay engaged with positive activities and opportunities. This will help prevent them becoming the future generation involved in drugs, exploitation and serious violence.”
“We hope today’s strategy will help bring people round the table and help us tackle this issue in the holistic, joined-up way it needs. Every life is precious and this is a real opportunity to ensure that future ones are not needlessly lost.”