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Waltham Forest Safety Commission calls for dedicated youth workers in schools to help reduce exclusions as one solution to rising violence on London’s streets

Waltham Forest Citizens Safety Commission has launched the findings of its 1,200 strong borough listening campaign. One of the main recommendations is a pilot scheme dedicated youth workers in Waltham Forest schools to stage early interventions with troubled children and help reverse cuts to youth and children’s services.

Read the report here .

Exclusion, adverse childhood experiences, relationships between the policy and lack of youth opportunities amongst the problems identified as Commission calls for urgent injection of resource into youth services and school capacity for early intervention to avoid exclusions

Waltham Forest Citizens, part of Citizens UK, is the first of a series of youth and civil society commissions across London to release its findings.

Young people on the front line of the knife crime epidemic have been at the centre of the inquiry and today, Friday 22 nd March, they published their findings and recommendations will be presented to Waltham Forest Council, Police Borough Commanders and other power holders in the borough.

One key finding, amongst a series of recommendations put forward during the course of the commission, is that the triple whammy of funding cuts to schools, youth clubs and Council funding for children’s services is costing lives. The Commission will demand urgent action including a pilot of dedicated Youth Workers in schools, to help plug the gap caused by cuts to youth services across the capital. Other solutions already being put into action by members of the commission are increasing mentoring opportunities, encouraging greater youth dialogue with the police and work experience placement opportunities with local businesses and charities.

Gill Burbridge, Principal, Leyton Sixth form, “Schools and colleges have a duty to protect students and staff from risks posed by other students. However, the consequences of excluding vulnerable students must also be considered. Young people who have direct experience of being excluded are often made more vulnerable and therefore more susceptible to being drawn into further, harmful behaviours. A specific proposal of this commission is to urgently find the funds to shore up the loss of Youth Services across the capital, with a pilot of a dedicated youth support worker able to help keep children safe and in education.”

Kamahl Sami – Miller, YIAG member, age 22 said: “I grew up on an estate where being shot or stabbed was almost on everyone’s bucket list. I could tell you many stories… The first time I saw a stabbing was a family friend; at the time he only was 13, I was 10. The stabbings turned him into a vegetable and after a few days the machine had to be turned off… instead of waiting for these young people to commit a crime or worse, prevent it. Send them to interventions, offer counselling. Never forget prevention is better than cure!”

Female YIAG member aged 17, Priory Court estate: My suggestion to combat youth violence is to make the politicians & decision makers reflect the community and have an understanding our experiences. I myself had a difficult upbringing and lived with an abusive father, I realise now the difficulties my father put us through were a reflection of his own childhood traumas, the cycle had continued through generations. So another solution… is to understand the roots of embedded historical trauma and even post-traumatic slave syndrome and to get support, awareness and understanding of this.”

Posted on 29 Mar, 2019