On 31 January, Abianda team members headed to Redthread's HIVE 'Collaborating to Reduce Serious Youth Violence' Conference. It brought together community organisations, practitioners, funders and commissioners who work to prevent and intervene in cycles of violence and harm. It was a great opportunity to learn about approaches from other organisations and to network with people who strive to centre young people in their work. Our team took away many important points from the presentations, including the below.
We really appreciated Director of London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) Lib Peck's focus on language, particularly when she questioned the use of the term 'Serious Youth Violence' and how it doesn't take into account the perpetuating factors of harm that are outside of young people's control. Lib also spoke at length about the importance of the young person's voice. She gave an example of a piece of work that the VRU Youth Action Group recently completed around the police's use of knife imagery in social media posts. We look forward to seeing young people's views listened to and acted on.
Barnados' Centre Director Ghino Parker gave an incredibly powerful talk, asking people to consider whether they and their organisation truly understood the definition and impact of systemic inequality. Ghino challenged us to take intentional actions that ensure our services align their purpose with that of the local community and locally-rooted organisations.
Stan Gilmour, Director of Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit spoke about how 80% of women in prison have a brain injury and how 2/3rds of those are thought to have been caused by Intimate Partner Violence. Stan spoke about how this data should support us to consider the context of any interventions that aim to 'decrease criminality'; we must look to implement preventative support, aimed at keeping women and girls safe from the start. Stan also asked something of delegates; he spoke about how the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been embedded within both Scotland and Wales' central policies but we are yet to see this happen in England. Why are children not a priority for our government?
Mark from the ISTV (Information Sharing to Tackle Violence) programme spoke about the anonymised data that is collected by A&E departments all over London, which helps create up-to-date information about 'hotspots' for harm. Mark encouraged us to speak with our local authority and see how they are acting on this data to make the community safer and how we can link in with this.
Thank you to all the presenters for highlighting such vital issues relating to the safety of young people. We're grateful to Redthread for hosting and look forward to attending the next event.