UK Youth CEO Anna Smee was invited to attend the Prime Minister’s Serious Violence Summit at No. 10 Downing Street to discuss the vital role youth services play in tackling violence against young people.
UK Youth participated in a round table session chaired by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Jeremy Wright MP and attended by Mims Davies MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society) and Nadhim Zahawi MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education). Other participants included the National Policing Lead for Children and Young People, the COO of Sport England, the CEO of the Arts Council England, the Chair of the Youth Violence Commission, the CEO of Impetus PEF, the Football Premier League, youth representatives, and UK Youth members Positive Youth Foundation and OnSide Youth Zones.
The group explored the importance of building trusted relationships, providing positive opportunities, and giving young people hope. Within this context, UK Youth called on the Secretary of State to focus on:
- Putting young people’s voices, including youth workers and volunteers who support them, at the heart of decision making.
- Investing resources where they are needed most, including in the group of young people most at risk in turn reducing the ripple effects impacting a wider group of young people.
- Taking a nationally coordinated public health approach based on what we know works.
- Ensuring delivery takes place through established local youth organisations that understand the complexity of the challenge and can make a long-term commitment to its resolution.
There was widespread backing in the room for this type of approach, with nearly every organisation around the table joining UK Youth in calling for greater investment into youth services. We emphasised the role UK Youth members play in delivering positive activities for young people across the arts, sport and outdoor learning, and highlighted examples of partnership working with theaters, football clubs, schools and others. Case studies were shared on the excellent work being delivered in this area by Aik Saath (part of Berkshire Youth), Brighter Futures (London), Artwork (Southampton) and Youth Federation (Cheshire).
During the Serious Violence Summit the Secretary of State Jeremy Wright and Minister Mims Davies responded positively to our call.
A public health approach, similar to the one implemented in Scotland, is clearly needed to address serious violence against young people across the UK. There are examples of this approach already happening in certain areas. Our priority should be to identify and understand the approaches that work and begin to replicate them in other parts of the country. To achieve this we need to bring all the agencies young people interact with together, with youth work at the heart, to create and deliver solutions in partnership. At UK Youth we are working closely with our network of 3,536 youth and community organisations to realise this vision and build bright futures for young people.