LifeLine Projects

Case Study: Serious Group Violence mentoring

LifeLine’s SW!TCH Lives programme is funded through the Community Safety Team of the London Borough of Havering. The SW!TCH Lives team provides support to vulnerable young people in Havering, who are at risk of or who are currently known to the Criminal Justice System, to prevent their situation from worsening. The service works closely with the Council’s Youth Offending Service and Probation Service, as part of a greater focus on preventative measures for young people in the borough.

Over the last year, the programme has engaged with 54 young people providing intensive one-to-one mentoring, CV development, job search workshops, interview preparation, advocacy support with housing, schools and colleges, and liaising with other key professionals.

Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

When I first met Andre, he was in a truly desperate situation. When he came out of jail, it was a pivotal moment. It coincided with the passing of his mother and the loss of his childhood family home. The authorities decided to relocate him, stemming from safety concerns as one of his closest friends was stabbed near the family home. My role as a mentor was to provide gentle guidance and support. My plan for Andre was to help him find suitable accommodation, gain employment, financial freedom and avoid a return to criminal activity.

Our mentoring sessions were initially focused on building his resilience and enabling him to see the bigger picture. I made him think about his future and his goals. He told me about his immediate challenge, finding appropriate organisations that could help with his financial and housing situation. Andre took the initiative and sent me his CV, demonstrating his commitment to seeking legitimate employment. Andre was determined not to return to illegal activities to solve his financial problems.

As his financial difficulties worsened, I thought there was a small danger of Andre returning to crime. I increased our mentoring sessions to twice a week. This gave him the time and space to interact and engage with me for longer periods.

He openly admitted that he was mentally struggling. The housing situation was having a profound impact on him. We explored activities that would improve his mental and physical health. He signed up to a local gym that was cheaper than he thought, and he also started playing football. I encouraged him to keep active, as exercise helps reduce the body’s stress hormones.  Andre received an offer for housing, but in a neighbouring county. He hesitated because he was concerned about the long distance from his support network. On his behalf I wrote an email to the housing department, addressing his concerns. We also paid a visit to Citizens Advice to gather additional information.

As we waited for a response, things became more complex due to the involvement of multiple organisations with conflicting information. This ultimately led to Andre being declared homeless and having to sofa-surf in a friend’s flat. At this point, I escalated Andre’s case and reached out to the Director of Housing.

Things began to turn around when Andre gained employment at a local hotel. This was a really significant achievement. And after weeks of continuous communications with the housing department, Andre secured a new place to call home. He was so happy with his newfound stability. This was, further bolstered by his continued success in his job. He proudly showcased his new apartment to me. I was so proud; it highlighted the remarkable progress Andre had made. The relief of finally settling into a secure home had a profound impact on his mental well-being, enabling him to express his feelings more openly.

Shortly after, Andre shared with me his secret passion for music. Now that he had a more stable and secure lifestyle, he was ready to pursue it more seriously.

Andre’s journey is a testament to his resilience and determination. He was confronted with a myriad of challenges. Through consistently attending our mentoring sessions and emotionally opening up, he’s found a new belief in himself. Now in secure employment and housing, he’s fully committed to a brighter future. He’s made significant strides; Andre is a great inspiration to others.

Theo, Youth Development Worker

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Andre’s story is a great example of how our mentoring adapts to different needs. There’s no single perfect method for helping someone—we’re always navigating new problems that arise in the journey. It’s important to support young people through the challenges that may lure them back into a life of crime.

Alex Nelson
SW!TCH Lives Manager

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These articles may contain testimonials by LifeLine staff members and service users of our programmes and/or services. These testimonials reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of such staff members/ service users. However, the experiences are personal to those staff members/ service users and may not necessarily be representative of all staff members/ service users of our programmes and/or services. We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all staff members/ service users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

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