15th Apr '19

Berkshire Youth Expands Youth Worker Team to Help Vulnerable Young People in Schools

Berkshire Youth, the young people’s charity, today announced it is increasing the number of its youth workers within schools to help vulnerable young people at risk of exclusion, thanks to funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Thames Valley. 

In November the OPCC was awarded £822,000 from the Home Office Early Intervention Fund and is now leading on rolling out a programme of activities to tackle youth violence, knife crime and exploitation across the Thames Valley.  The programme is being managed and overseen by the OPCC with partner organisations assisting on the delivery and monitoring of individual projects at a local level. 

Berkshire Youth will be putting Youth Workers in 20 Secondary schools across Berkshire to help those young people at risk of exclusion. These Youth Workers will also do Street based youth work, ensuring that young people are not exposing themselves to risk outside of school hours. 

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said ““Given the recent increase in knife crime, we need to look at what more we can do to protect young people from violence and exploitation and how we can work even more closely in partnership with both statutory and community organisations to try to reverse this trend. 

“Organisations such as Berkshire Youth have proven experience in working with young people at risk of becoming involved in gangs, knife crime or drug dealing.  Its youth work is a great example of an intervention programme which is making an impact by providing activities to keep young people off the streets where they may be at risk, and forging meaningful relationships with them through mentoring programmes.  

“I believe that projects such as these make a real difference to the lives of individuals and communities as a whole and I look forward to seeing these activities progress over the coming months.”

David Seward CEO of Berkshire Youth said: “Whilst local communities want to help vulnerable young people, often they lack the experience and skills to do so. Our specialist on-the-street youth workers will help young people in Berkshire who are at risk of being exploited, coerced into gangs or becoming the victims of knife crime.” 

Specialist youth teams will interact and build relationships with young people where they ‘hang out’; shopping precincts and parks late at night. They will encourage the young person from the streets into local youth activities. Each young person will receive one-to-one mentoring and support from trained community volunteer mentors for up to 12 months. 

“We’ll recruit and train local volunteer mentors. Invaluable trusting relationships will be built between the young person and their volunteer mentor to help transition the vulnerable or disadvantaged young people from our streets and into local youth activities. Positive role models in our local communities are so important, especially with our hard to reach young people at risk of exploitation and crime,” added David. 

Berkshire Youth street workers have successfully been working in Bracknell and Thatcham since November they have had over 500 interactions with young people.

Throughout 2019 and 2020 specialist youth workers will be deployed beyond Bracknell, Newbury and Thatcham into Reading, Slough, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead. Young people on the streets of these towns will be identified and encouraged towards local youth activities.

In April Berkshire Youth’s work will be rolled out into 20 Berkshire schools. Preventative education for young people, helping with early identification of those at risk of gangs, drug and knife crime. 

 “Berkshire Youth will work closely in and with our local communities, with the aim of reducing levels of serious violence and crime amongst young people. Berkshire Youth has been working with young people in the county for more than 70 years, championing and improving the lives of our youth. Unfortunately, now our young people are at risk of exploitation and knife crime more than ever and we want to help local communities to help their young people,” said David Seward.