New taskforces to support vulnerable young people in serious violence hotspots

Young people at risk of exploitation are to be supported through 'taskforces' in 21 new areas.

06/09/21

New taskforces to support vulnerable young people in serious violence hotspots

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced plans for two new projects to help vulnerable young people at risk of being drawn into crime or gangs.

From as early as November this year, professionals – including mental health professionals, family workers, and speech and language therapists – will offer intensive support, working directly with young people in alternative provision settings in in 21 areas across England, including London, Manchester, and Birmingham.

The DfE’s says the two-year programme will aim to keep pupils in Alternative Provision, including those who have been excluded from school engaged in education, and get them back on track with their studies and preventing them from being drawn into gang activity or becoming involved with serious crime.

A further taskforce will be rolled out in ten ‘serious violence hotspot’ areas from early 2022, led by local schools to protect young people at risk of truant and from being permanently excluded. The DfE says the SAFE (‘Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed’) Taskforces will deliver targeted interventions to reduce truancy, improve behaviours, and reduce the risk of individuals failing to enter education, employment or training (NEET).

Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford, says the taskforces will provide support not only for vulnerable children’s education but also their wellbeing.

“Keeping young people engaged in their learning can be absolutely vital in preventing them from being drawn into serious violence or exploited by gangs – especially in light of increased risks from the pandemic,” Ford said.

“We have all seen the tragic results of when a child gets caught up in crime, so getting in early to keep them on track is crucial for their safety and that of our communities.”

The 21 areas where Alternative Provision Taskforces will be rolled out have been identified using combined data suggesting higher incidences of youth violence, including hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object, as well as the volume of serious violence offences. The funding provided to Alternative Provision settings will be based on their size and has been London-weighted. The DfE says the 10 SAFE areas will be confirmed “in due course”, from among the 21 areas already announced.

Jenny Adamson, Headteacher of Saffron Valley Collegiate, an alternate provision setting in Croydon, said the taskforces could be a ‘game changer’ for some young people.

“Over time, we have clearly seen the benefit of drawing in professionals from outside of teaching and learning to bring complex solutions to the complex issues surrounding our young people, but the opportunity to have a co-located team has excited and energised us.

“This programme has the potential to ‘catch’ some of our young people in the earlier stages of concern, whilst putting a more effective safety net around those where issues are at the highest level.”

The full list of 21 areas includes: Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Croydon, Liverpool, Leeds, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Nottingham, Leicester, Haringey, Newham, Bristol, Doncaster, Enfield, Southwark, Brent, Bradford, Salford, Lambeth and Sandwell.

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