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An evaluation into St Giles’s work preventing young people from becoming involved in serious violence has concluded that projects are embedding positive approaches to tackle knife crime and supporting a public health approach to addressing the issue from the grassroots.
The work, which takes place under St Giles’ SOS+ Programme, uses specially trained facilitators to raise awareness of the realities of issues such as knife crime, county lines, gangs and exploitation. It uses people have been there themselves, using their own personal testimonies as a way of offering prevention and resilience to children and young people at risk. The facilitators also offer training to professionals working with young people.
The study, carried out by J H Consulting, looked at four different projects operating in London, Leeds and Ipswich. It found that the use of individuals with lived experience of offending and serious violence gave the projects credibility and the ability to engage participants.
Recorded knife offences have risen 70% over the last five years and the projects have been in high demand. 1,007 sessions have been delivered in 2017/18 reaching over 55,000 participants.
The study also found that the projects targeted, peer-led approach was able to reach younger age group and new communities including rural, Eastern European and Black and Minority Ethnic communities. One youth worker interviewed for the evaluation commented: “We’ve had a marked reduction in aggression since the SOS+ sessions and it’s changed a few attitudes for the better. For me, that is clear proof of how successful this is.”
The projects are all Home Office-funded and each is adapted to the local needs of very different environments – from small villages in Suffolk to urban areas in south and east London. “The approach we use is reasonably simple but highly effective,” said Evan Jones, Head of Child Criminal Exploitation at St Giles Trust. “The key elements are the use of trained professionals who have a real understanding of the issue and come from the communities we are working in. The team also really listen to them so we can adapt our approach to meet their needs and situations – there is no one-size-fits-all approach.”
Our aim is to source funding to develop the roll out of SOS+ nationally so young people in communities across England and Wales can build resilience to
involvement in knife crime, violence and exploitation.
The full report will be formally launched in autumn and available for download then.