UCLH is working in partnership with Camden and Islington Councils and youth charity Redthread, in a programme to reduce violence and exploitation among London’s 11-24 year olds. This project is funded in part by UCLH Charity, the Trust's official charity, alongside contributions from Camden and Islington Councils.
An estimated 200 young people attend the four London major trauma centres per month having been stabbed or assaulted. Data from Redthread shows that the majority of them will have attended their local hospital four to five times with minor injuries prior to the major trauma incident. A significant proportion demonstrate health inequalities or vulnerabilities to exploitation, trafficking, sexual assault or cycles of violence and crime.
Consultant Jo Begent who specialises in working with young people said, “At UCLH we see at least 60 young people a week in our paediatric emergency department, aged 13-18 years old. Approximately one third of these have soft tissue injuries. Of these, a third, i.e at least one a day, has a very concerning injury that is either clearly a stabbing or has features suggestive of a criminal or gang related injury”.
Under the new violence intervention programme, from March 2020, specialist youth workers will join a multi-disciplinary team based in the Emergency Department of University College Hospital. The team will provide young people aged 11-24 with the tailored support needed to help them to keep away from involvement in youth violence or exploitation and move on with their lives.
The Youth Violence Intervention Programme started at King’s College Hospital 13 years ago and today operates in seven sites across London, Nottingham and Birmingham. The youth work team work alongside the clinical staff and meet the young patients as soon as they can: in the Emergency Department waiting room, on the ward, or even in the resuscitation bay. This moment of intense crisis, when the young person is nursing a serious injury in the daunting environment of a busy hospital, often alone, can be a catalyst for self-reflection and pursuing positive change – a ‘teachable moment’. After leaving the hospital, Redthread mentor and advise the young person and support them to make long-term positive plans.
Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said: “I am proud that we are supporting the Redthread Youth Violence Intervention Programme to come to UCLH as part of our commitment to keep our young people safe on our streets. No young person should end up in hospital because of a violent attack, and I hope that this new programme will ensure that young people and their families are able to access the right support at a time when it can make the most difference in their lives.”
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council’s executive member for children, young people and families, said: “We are absolutely determined to tackle serious youth violence, which can have devastating consequences for our communities.
“The causes and drivers are extremely complex, and even though we have seen a reduction in knife crime, one knife injury is one too many, and this is why we welcome Redthread to UCLH.
“Redthread’s time-critical action could make all the difference to the lives of the vulnerable people they see, helping them towards a safer future in which they can thrive.”
Marcel Levi, UCLH CEO, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity for us to work in collaboration to provide joined up, holistic support to help keep young people safe from harm.”
John Poyton, CEO at Redthread commented, “We are incredibly excited to announce the expansion of our Youth Violence Intervention Programme to UCLH.
We know young people attend their local A&E four or five times before arriving at one of London’s Major Trauma Centres, where our youth work teams are currently embedded. By setting up a team in UCLH, we hope to meet young people earlier, before they reach crisis point to support them to break the cycle of violence.”
For more information about Redthread, visit www.redthread.org.uk