Tackling Youth Violence in Harrow

Khulisa is proud to be part of an innovative new partnership between 4 charities, Harrow Council and the University of Bedfordshire - all working together to tackle and prevent the rise of youth violence in Harrow, London.

The Early Intervention Youth Fund Programme is funded by the Home Office and was set up in 2018 to respond to increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide across the UK.  A consortium of partners working in Harrow (including Khulisa) developed a joint bid and secured funds to support young people aged 14-15 in 3 secondary schools over 12 months.

Why Harrow?

On Tuesday 21st August, two young men aged 18 and 25 were shot outside Rayner’s Lane Underground station during the evening rush hour in a gang-related confrontation. Although shocking, the event fits into the wider trend of increasing serious violent crime in Harrow. Young people in Harrow, mirroring national trends, are at the forefront of this rise in serious violent crime both as perpetrators and victims and Serious Youth Crime rose by 40% between 2016-17.

Results from the ‘This Is Harrow’ research partnership showed that children and young people in Harrow lack positive activities and opportunities to keep them out of trouble, quality and respectful relationships with peers and adults to support them to make better decisions and support services that they can rely on outside of the support offered in school. By responding to these needs and intervening with young people in a way that responds to their own personal circumstances and challenges, this project aims to reduce the overall number of young people committing serious violent crimes and make Harrow a safer borough both for young people and the wider community.

This project targets the most at-risk young people with preventative interventions that directly address the main drivers of serious violent crime in Harrow. Working through the Community Safety Partnership – Safer Harrow – the project brings together the police, council, schools, expert local voluntary and community organisations, youth workers, parents and careers and the wider community. Acknowledging that at-risk young people have complex and overlapping needs, the project will deliver tailored support based on the needs of individuals and groups.

The Partners

Khulisa will work with Harrow Council, the University of Bedfordshire and 3 other specialist charity partners to address the root causes of these issues and together, we hope to keep young people safe in Harrow. The partners are:

Harrow Council will employ a full time Violence, Vulnerability and Exploitation (VVE) worker who will deliver a series of parenting programmes aimed at strengthening parents’ understanding of risk outside of the home and how to manage this within a contextual safeguarding framework. The programme will be delivered to 100 parents and will focus on missing, exploited and trafficked children and young people within Harrow.

The Contextual Safeguarding Team (from University of Bedfordshire) will be providing 3 training sessions per year, for at least 30-35 people which will include professionals and members of the public on the concept of Community Guardianship and the Contextual Safeguarding Approach.

A charity specialising in supporting young people to exit gangs, Ignite will employ a full-time gangs worker to deliver mentoring programmes in six sites across Harrow. The gangs worker will work closely with the Council’s VVE and Community Safety team to target specific young people who are involved in gangs and criminal activity, as well as young people at the periphery of crime.  Through this funding they will work with 100 high risk young people across 20 schools.

A charity specialising in using art and theatre production to divert young people away from crime is Synergy, who will work with year 9 and 10 pupils to deliver 10 theatre performances to help them discover alternative coping strategies and feel more connected to their community.

Khulisa will deliver our flagship Face It programme with 100 young people, using a range of creative learning techniques to develop social and emotional skills (e.g. self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation and consequential thinking). We will also deliver staff training sessions for teachers in schools, helping them to identify and respond to the effects of trauma in young people.

Finally, a charity specialising in preventing and reducing harm caused by Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Wish, will support 40-50 children and young people each year, and train 40-60 professionals and frontline workers in targeted primary and secondary schools and community settings each year.

What we hope to achieve

The project will reach Harrow’s most at risk young people, hundreds of parents and professionals working within schools and community settings. The project will directly reduce the risk factors that young people face and provide effective early interventions that meet individuals’ needs. As a result, young people themselves will feel safer, happier and better supported to make positive choices. We expect to see reductions in youth-on youth violence, gang related violence and overall levels of knife and weapon carrying. Over two years, this will drive a reduction in the incidence and severity of serious youth violent crime in ‘hot spot areas’ of Harrow and the wider borough.

We will measure the change we make in Harrow, by observing:

  • Individual change for young people. Within 12 months, young people will develop greater levels of emotional resilience, we will see improvements in: behaviour and attitudes; self-confidence; aspiration and the ability to build positive relationships with others.
  • Cultural change in family homes and amongst workforces in schools and community centres. Within 2 years, institutions will begin to embed contextual safeguarding, trauma-informed and restorative approaches which foster safe, nurturing environments that support the wellbeing of staff and young people. With improved knowledge of the impact of trauma on young people, parents and professionals will have greater confidence and ability to support vulnerable children in their care. We will see improvements in: school attendance, attainment and a reduction in violent incidents and school exclusions.
  • Positive social change within the wider community. With sustained commitment throughout the borough to the framework of contextual safeguarding, we hope to see a decrease in serious violent youth crime, offending and/or re-offending rates.

We will seek to share what we learn from this partnership approach and if successful,we hope to be able to replicate this model to other parts of London.  If you’d like to know more about this partnership and our progress so far, sign up to Khulisa’s newsletter or contact Khulisa’s partnership lead, Despina Bardosi on despina@khulisa.co.uk.

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