A PROJECT set up to keep young people out of harm’s way and counter the threat of the county lines drugs gangs has been hailed a success.
The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit was set up in 2019 following a successful bid by Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, along with partner organisations, to the Home Office Early Intervention Youth Fund for additional funding to tackle the growing threat of County Lines.
It was created because of the repeated calls by young people across Thurrock and wider Essex that they want safe activities to participate in and safe places to meet, alongside adults they can talk to and trust.
The unit has worked with Essex Council of Voluntary Youth Services and Active Essex to fund detached youth workers in areas of need in Essex, Southend and Thurrock.
The youth workers provide detached youth work and safe activities for vulnerable young people aged 10 -14 yrs old in Essex, Southend and Thurrock, who are at risk of exposure to youth violence and gang activity because of their situation, locality or place that they choose to gather.
The increased activity and support provided by the detached youth workers enabled young people to make better life choices and increase their physical activity. The adults provide a level of ‘risk in the community’ safeguarding and are seen as positive role models.
The project saw:
- · 4934 different young people engaged through detached youth work
- · 8321 contacts between young people and detached youth workers (3387 of these were repeat contacts throughout the year)
- · 1850 hours of youth work delivered by two members of staff in each district, over 637 sessions across seven districts
- · a cost of just 48p per week per contact to run
A report by the unit on its progress says: “After a year and a half of delivery, local partners who delivered the work (Essex Boys and Girls Club, Bar’n’bus, Red Balloon Foundation, Essex YMCA and Homestart, Southend YMCA, Teen Talk, Essex Youth Service and North Avenue Youth Centre) have become a trusted presence with young people in parks, high streets and communities.
“The youth workers offer support and advice through conversation on a needs-led basis. Partners have also engaged with community groups, district councils, sports groups and the Police, and have shown a real community effort to support vulnerable young people in their local areas.
“In many of the case studies from partners, we can see there is clear value using local organisations who are already based in these communities to deliver this work. Organisations were able to link up their usual work in schools, community centres and youth buildings with their detached work in order to strengthen their presence as a trusted adult and organisation in the local area.”