Access to work, and access to community youth services must be provided if we are to tackle youth crime

The Government’s new funding, promised in the Spring Statement, must be aimed at root causes of youth crime. Movement to Work, IHEART & London Youth are calling on employers to provide more opportunities for all young people and for Government to reinvest in the UK’s youth services. Providing a future through positive mentorship, hope and ambition will have the greatest impact

Work-placement charity, Movement to Work (MtW), IHEART, a charity which helps young people develop their mental health and resilience, and London Youth, which aims to improve the lives of young people in London, are calling on more employers to provide work opportunities for young people who may otherwise enter a world of crime, and for funding to be restored for youth outreach and facilities.

MtW also calls on the Government to properly fund youth services. The £100m promised in the Spring Statement appears to be primarily aimed at policing. Though this has a role to play, it does not address the root issues of why much of youth crime occurs.

London Youth agreed:

While police are a part of reducing the levels of violence, enforcement is not the single solution. The work of the Youth Violence Commission has shown the roots of violence are deep and that there are no quick solutions. To end violence, we must take determined and bold action in addressing poverty, reducing the disparities experienced by people from many backgrounds, and providing more positive and meaningful opportunities for all young people.

MtW, which has delivered 80,000 work placements over the last five years for young people who are not in education, employment or training, says that gaining meaningful work can be a major long-term factor in helping to address the current wave of knife crime. Over 50% of those who have completed a MtW work placement have gone onto employment or back into education.

The youth unemployment rate was 11.8% in February 2019[1], and far higher in areas of deprivation, compared to an unemployment rate of 4.0% for the whole population. With limited opportunities available, it’s easy to see why some young people become marginalised, disconnected from the statutory support available and ‘hidden’ from the statistics.  London Youth has produced a report Hidden in Plain Sight, which describes this issue.

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The job opportunities are there with thousands of vacancies and employers investing to support young people into employment through apprenticeships, work placements and other opportunities. However, this can only make a difference if young people believe that they can access these opportunities and have access to relevant mentoring and role models to show them the pathway to jobs. This national challenge needs a joined up local response, and more funding is needed for youth outreach organisations and mentors, to do the vital work in supporting young people towards these opportunities.

James Ashall, chief executive at Movement to Work, said:

“As a coalition of employers we can support people into employment once they are known to us, but it’s organisations like London Youth who are part of local communities that can support young people to find their way to MtW and employers.  Positive mentorship is critical and we must address this. It is not a problem that can be solved in isolation by individuals; it needs society to come together to provide the right pathways, mentors and opportunities to find support.

“Employers now working with MtW have found that these young people are loyal, develop badly needed skills and that current workforces enjoy mentoring them. Meaningful employment is key to positive ambition; if young people see a bright future and potential careers, with positive guidance, we will all benefit, and looking at things starkly, fewer lives will be lost.”

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, CEO of London Youth, which represents over 480 youth organisations in London, said:

“Rising youth violence coincides with sustained cuts to youth services and fewer opportunities available to our young people. London’s Lost Youth Services report (2018) identified over £145 million lost from youth services across London since 2011, with 81 youth clubs closing and 800 youth service roles being lost in this period. Youth clubs are embedded in their local communities, they help young people build confidence and develop life skills critical to their future economic success. Young people choose to attend youth centres and build trusted relationships with youth workers which are key to inspiring them about the future. Our employability work has proven the positive outcomes young people achieve when employers and youth organisations work hand in hand.”

Brian Rubenstein, CEO of IHEART, a charity that helps young people develop mental health and wellbeing to become resilient, contributing members of society, and author of Escaping the Illusion, a novel covering knife crime, gang culture and other issues, said:

“It’s vital that young people realise their in-built potential. It’s crucial to help them see how they can build resilience and self-confidence and, for many, this will also involve meaningful work that provides good lifestyles and ambition. Combining an understanding of what constitutes their own innate mental health with a placement through Movement to Work will provide the means of realising that potential when they take up jobs or go back into education. This will help to reduce crime amongst young people, which is so often the result of the mistaken belief that there is no potential within them for a positive life.”

About Movement to Work (MtW): A collaboration of UK employers committed to tackling youth unemployment through the provision of high-quality work experience and other work opportunities. 80,000 work placements have been made possible by employers, charities and Government working together through MtW. Collectively they have provided young people with diverse and empowering experiences ranging from hospitality to engineering. Working with MtW, employers create work experience placements for unemployed young people between 16-30 years of age, particularly those who have been out of work, education or training for some time.

MtW works with charity partners that specialise in addressing particular issues, which includes long-term unemployment, homelessness, mental-health and young offenders. These charities help to provide a pipeline of young people who will benefit from a work placement. MtW’s employer members include Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, BUPA, Centrica, the Department for Work and Pensions, Diageo, HSBC, IBM, Marks and Spencer, Marriott International, NHS, Tesco, Unilever and Wates, amongst others.

About London YouthWe are London Youth, a charity on a mission to improve the lives of young people in London, challenging them to become the best they can. Young people need opportunities outside school to have fun with their friends, to learn new skills, to make a positive change in their communities and to shape the city they live in. Last year, we worked with over 27,000 young people through our sports development, employability, youth action and involvement, arts and outdoor education programmes. Our work gives young people access to opportunities they might not otherwise have had.

Throughout our history, community youth organisations have provided a constant lifeline and a vital safe space outside the family and formal education, where young people can develop confidence, resilience and skills.

Our Future Talent employability programme launches in April 2019 through which we will work with 320 young people aged 14-18, who will be recruited to the programme from member youth organisations working in those five London boroughs.

About IHEARTInnate Health Education and Resilience Training is a registered charity dedicated to creating a revolutionary shift in society by helping young people realise their potential through learning about the innate resilience and mental health that all human beings possess. Despite huge investment and allocation of resources, society is facing a mental health crisis.

Our vision is to catalyse a step-change in how young people perceive their wellbeing and mental health, creating resilient adults and contributing members of society. The thoughtfully designed IHEART programme is our response to this crisis facing our youth. Since our conception in January 2018, we have impacted over 1,500 young people. The programme engages and empowers people with the built in knowledge that they can manage their challenges and difficulties. This accelerates an increase in wellbeing and resilience in all aspects of personal, social, family, work and communal life.

Our results are transformative and sustainable. In explaining how the often challenging circumstances of our lives can be navigated with far greater ease, confidence and success, the revolutionary IHEART approach offers the missing piece in the mental health and wellbeing puzzle that society wishes to solve.

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