Youth Violence

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 7:17 pm on 10th October 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Opposition Whip (Commons) 7:17 pm, 10th October 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. He is absolutely right. Faith groups play an instrumental role in reducing youth violence. I am thinking of my own organisations, and of a local pastor called Ben Lindsay and the wonderful work that he does in Lewisham. He also gives me wonderful advice on engaging with the faith community. I absolutely agree with everything the hon. Gentleman has said.

Funding challenges have made the sector super-competitive. Local charities with similar aims have little incentive to collaborate because they are all bidding for the same pots of money. Large organisations with professional bid writers are much more likely to get funding than small charities, even if those charities are doing good work on the ground. On top of this, funding is too often allocated for short periods, and core funding is especially difficult to come by. So we are left with an environment that discourages collaboration and reinforces inconsistency.

Now, imagine we have a teenager. He has grown up in a household where he witnesses domestic violence regularly. His mother self-medicates and his father is largely absent, but when he is around he is violent. At school, he is disruptive and as he gets older he is bounced between different services. No one sticks around for particularly long and the services do not communicate with one another or share data. External involvement in this young person’s life is disjointed and inconsistent, reinforcing his belief that no one really cares about what happens to him. A young person like this is crying out for just one adult who cares, and who will stick around in their life for as long as it takes to make a difference. Research from Public Health Wales backs this up, showing that access to a trusted adult in childhood could significantly reduce the negative consequences associated with ACEs—adverse childhood experiences.