A&Es fight to reduce youth violence in London

Youth workers will be introduced to five additional A&E departments for the first time to work with young people caught up in violent crime.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced record investment to increase the number of youth workers in hospitals across the city and help steer young people away from violence.

More than £4 million will fund additional teams of youth workers to be based for the first time in five Accident & Emergency hospitals in areas with high levels of young victims of violent crime – Newham Hospital in Plaistow, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Croydon University Hospital, University Hospital Lewisham and Whittington Hospital, covering Islington and Haringey.

This investment will also provide an increase in the number of specialist youth workers already based in London’s four Major Trauma Centres – Kings, St George’s, St Marys and the Royal London hospitals. The Mayor’s funding will continue to invest in youth workers in A&E departments at North Middlesex University Hospital in Enfield and St Thomas’ Hospital in Lambeth, as well as providing funding for the first time to youth workers who are currently working in Homerton A&E in Hackney.

Martin Griffiths, clinical director for violence reduction in London said:

“I am grateful for this investment which recognises the success of London’s Emergency Department based violence reduction programmes. As excellent examples of shared working between the NHS & Third sector, we will provide targeted support for further challenged communities involving people with lived experience and community buy-in to drive success.”

Youth workers based in hospital departments has shown that young people who arrive at London’s Major Trauma Centres with serious injuries will have been to A&E previously with lower level injuries. Basing youth workers in A&E departments lets them intervene much earlier and engage with young people when they arrive at hospital with injuries – the time when they are most receptive to changing their behaviour.

Visiting the A&E at North Middlesex University Hospital in Enfield on 14th October, Sadiq joined the Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, Lib Peck, to meet the hospital’s A&E staff to hear about the successful interventions youth workers have been making.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“It is a tragedy that our city is being robbed of young people with so much potential and it is vital we do all we can to help them move away from a life of violence. Embedding youth workers in hospitals has already made a profound difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable young Londoners, reaching them at a crucial junction in their lives and helping them choose a different path away from violence. This is why I am investing record amounts to significantly expand this work and introduce specialist youth workers to more A&E departments.”

Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, Lib Peck, explained:

“The best time to stop violence is before it starts – that is why new funding to introduce youth workers into A&E departments is so important. Young people tell me that the youth workers are often a significant relationship in their lives and that it’s the point that they are introduced to new opportunities and diverted away from crime. This allows us to intervene much earlier to reduce violence – helping a young person turn their backs on violence or to leave an exploitative situation. This is a good example of how a public-health approach to tackling serious violence can work, demonstrating the importance of working closely with the NHS and specialist youth workers to tackle the root causes of violence and helping young people to continue on a positive path.”

Maria Kane, Chief Executive of North Middlesex University Hospital, added:

“I am delighted that the Mayor is continuing his commitment to taking a public health approach to tackling violent crime by providing this additional investment in North Mid. Haringey and Enfield have the fourth and fifth highest volumes of serious youth violence in the capital with weapon possession 42 per cent higher than capital’s average, and more than 20 knife and gun fatalities involving teenagers and young people under 30 in the last 12 months.

“Working with young people and their parents, our outreach programme in local primary and secondary schools coupled with our work with Oasis to embed youth workers within our A&E so that they can provide immediate advice and support, is proving to be very successful and the increased investment will help this service go from strength to strength.”