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Islington Council commissions charities in £2million commitment to help tackle serious youth violence

Islington Council has commissioned two specialist charities as part of its £2million commitment to help tackle the roots and consequences of serious youth violence in the borough.

The money will fund extra work directed at young people most at risk of becoming involved in gangs and criminality, and support those already entrenched in gangs to turn their back on crime and start building a positive future for themselves.

The extra funding is made up of £500,000 of investment per year over the next four years, to be spent on interventions with a strong track record of success. Young people themselves will also be involved in identifying gaps and priorities.

As part of the package Chance UK, an independent charity, will receive extra funding allowing it to offer more specialist one-to-one interventions to primary school-age youngsters in Islington, mentoring those most at risk of school exclusion, falling into crime, or being recruited or exploited by gangs.

Cllr Joe Caluori, executive member for children and young people, said: “Gang crime and serious youth violence is not only very damaging for those involved, but also harms their families and our wider society.

“To stop this requires a two-pronged approach. These projects and independent experts will help us direct significant efforts at encouraging tomorrow’s gang members to take an alternative path and turn their backs on crime, while also helping those already mired in that harmful lifestyle to get out.”

Moaad, aged 10, is one of the young people Chance UK is already mentoring in Islington. Welcoming the "really good" news, he said: “Chance UK have done a lot for me that I am proud of.  It has made a big difference. Before I had a mentor I was pretty shy, my relatives were my only friends.

"My mentor has introduced me to new things, which has helped me to be more confident in new situations when I talk to people. I am proud of Chance UK for helping other people."

This year the money will also fund Safer London to offer a similar approach for those aged 11-17, helping them develop self-confidence and improve their behaviour and skills, allowing them to turn their back on offending, successfully complete their education and get a job.

A two-year pilot project to support those at risk of sexual exploitation and harmful sexual behaviour, often associated with gangs, has also been commissioned.

In addition, the extra money means the St Giles Trust will be able to expand its work into Islington. St Giles Trust’s SOS Project uses specially trained ex-offenders to inform young people about the terrible impact gangs can have on their lives, and offer one-to-one support for those on the fringes of crime or already entrenched in gangs.

Some of the funding is being used to support the council’s Integrated Gangs Team (IGT). This is an important part of the borough’s response to the rise in youth crime, bringing together staff from the police, the council, probation, Job Centre Plus, the NHS and  voluntary sector organisations; an approach that has had a positive impact in other parts of the country.

Counselling will also be offered to young people both at risk of being recruited by gangs, and those already in gangs, to overcome the trauma associated with violence – both as perpetrators and victims – while more young people will benefit from training and employment support.

The commissioning strategy for the following three years will be put before the Executive for approval in December.

* Chance UK would like to hear from people interested in becoming mentors, and helping a child to make positive changes in their behaviour. 

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For more information contact:

Chris Roe
Media Manager
020 7527 8751