ESSEX Council for voluntary youth services (the independent voice for voluntary youth services in Essex) is asking hundreds of young people their views to help tackle violence and vulnerability in Essex.
Young people attending youth centres, church groups, young carers groups, uniformed organisations and other youth organisations in the county are being invited to take part in conversations about their feelings of safety.
Rachel Brett, CEO of Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services, said: “The idea is to give young people a voice where they are, in environments they feel most comfortable in, with their own trusted leaders, rather than trying to engage them with awkward surveys or one-off sessions. It is about thinking differently and giving the young people of Essex a more accessible way to share their views and opinions about issues that matter to them.
“Our members have contact with over 220,000 children and young people in Essex, and through these links and other community youth groups, we will be able to gather an in-depth representative view of what young people are thinking and feeling about crime and safety in their communities. This is a great way to empower our younger generation, who have many, many valuable things to say, and this project will give us the ears to listen.”
The project received £12,000 funding as part of the Violence and Vulnerability Programme established by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) and partners across Essex. The programme funds projects to reduce the risk of young and vulnerable people being groomed into a life of crime and help those affected by gangs to take the steps to leave.
Rachel said: “We have written a session plan around key questions that the Violence and Vulnerability Unit would like to engage young people around. The sessions are extremely flexible and can be moulded to fit any youth group setting.
“Groups have until the end of January 2020 to run the session, and then we will gather all the views together and these will form the basis of a report to help the Violence and Vulnerability Unit make sure that young people have a say in how the Unit targets their funding.
“It is important for us to be able to invest back into the voluntary sector too and so each group that takes part will receive a donation of £90 towards staff time, venue costs and pizza!
“We are really excited about the project and the opportunity to be able to give young people a voice on this very important issue. This is a fantastic opportunity for us, the Violence and Vulnerability Unit, and the young people of Essex.”
Any youth organisations keen to get involved should contact Rachel on firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “We are working hard in Essex to tackle violence in our communities and are well ahead of other areas of the country. We have already created a Violence and Vulnerability Unit and have invested in a range of activities for young people at risk and strengthened our enforcement activities. We really want to hear what young people think and how they feel and this is a great way to reach them.”