Lifeline's youth work team—collectively known as SW!TCH—works with young people who are at risk of being excluded from mainstream schooling, of having poor mental health, or of being involved in Serious Youth Violence. Traditionally, this takes place both in schools through mentoring and in the community through a programme of positive activities. However, in this 'new normal', schools have been closed and social distancing makes most communal activities unsustainable. But, like we heard last time, our team aren't content to just sit back and wait for lockdown to end – we've been working hard to come up with new ways…
Daniel Chery, one of the managers of our SW!TCH team, has pulled together his top tips for outreach and detached working. Always work in pairs Ensure you have a current and updated risk assessment Dynamically assess a situation before approaching young people in groups Communicate with the police and local authority to identify hotspots Make sure your team co-ordinate with other providers and share insights – joined-up working is vital Carry around a toolkit for improptu activities, e.g. footballs, rounder equipment, Frisbees, cones, bibs, first aid kit, whistle, PPE, etc. Bring the youthwork and activities to where the young people…
As we pass our 90th day in lockdown and the government has started to ease restrictions, our youth team – still out and about supporting young people – have started to observe a growing number of young people back out on the streets, along with a general lack of proper social distancing in general. After twelve weeks being stuck indoors, these young people are suddenly finding themselves under less supervision – parents are starting to return to work, but schools have not reopened yet. And we're worried that, after such a long period of boredom, they may turn to less…
Last month, tragically, a teenager was stabbed (and died) while attending a knife awareness course. The event was shocking, and raised questions across the sector about how to best safeguard those who are invited to attend such courses.
In our serious youth violence prevention programme SW!TCH Lives (and indeed all of our programmes), we place great emphasis on building relationship through long-term mentoring. This is the best way to get to know the individuals along with who their "ops" (opposition) and associates are. Attempting to discover this information from cold is very difficult; young people are far less inclined to talk honestly, fully, and openly with someone they don't know. We should also note that information changes rapidly and that's why a relational, rather than information-gathering, approach is essential.
Relationship versus service. Two young people - same message - 10 years apart. When will we listen to the young people in our schools, the care system, our communities?
We're excited to announce that TODAY, on #WorldMentalHealthDay2019, more schools across a greater geographical area, including Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge, Havering and now Thurrock will have access to LifeLine's SW!TCH Lives and VIP mentoring programme, designed to improve the life chances of young people who are on the edge of a life of violence and crime, school exclusion or poor mental health.
"There are no parks close by where I can take my child to play! We live in a high rise flat – help, where should we go?" This was the cry of parents at Little Learners Nursery in the centre of Ilford, East London. Rising numbers of parents both return to work after the birth of a child, coupled with various Government schemes on offer (including the whopping 30 hours free childcare) to make this both possible and attractive. It’s not hard to foresee tomorrow’s potential problem for today’s city-centre children. But what's the solution?
Many of the young people LifeLine work with have been deeply affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – or trauma. A growing body of research has identified the harmful effects that such experiences occurring during childhood, or teenage years (for example among others, exposure to domestic violence, or substance abuse or household mental illness) have on lifetime health. Individuals who have ACEs also tend to have more physical and mental health issues as adults than those who don’t and also tend to have a shorter life expectancy*.
A friend of mine recently commented that for some young people, 'the edge' is very close. Her and her husband have prioritised family life. They place a high value on having fun together, and talking together as a family has been something they have tried to cultivate.
When one of their children came back from the first term at university and described some of the things that were going on, they were able to support and point them in the right direction. This child (no longer a child!) is making positive choices about the future - career, relationships and lifestyle. 'The edge' is quite a long way off.
According to the charity Our Time, the cost of non-intervention for children who are affected by mental health issues is estimated to be a staggering £17 BILLION per year.
Furthermore, research indicates that children living with a parent with mental illness will themselves experience some degree of mental ill-health, unless they get some early support.
As the new year is well under way, we ask that you join us in calling young people to 'be the change they wish to see'.
The new school year has started and across the UK teachers are starting to feed the minds of another year's cohort of the young people who are curious and eager to learn, with a vision for their future, but what about those young people who do not share the same enthusiasm for learning, those who already seem to be on a path to a future where things aren’t good? Where is the provision for the most vulnerable, those who lack positive influences or relationships, and are in danger of dropping out of education?