The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is investing £3.4 million to more than treble the number of young people supported with opportunities after school and at weekends, when evidence shows they are more vulnerable to violence.
It builds on the VRU’s initial £1.3m investment that supported 5,000 young people between 2021 and 2023.
Through its Stronger Futures programme, London’s VRU is funding 23 grassroots community organisations to deliver activities for 17,000 children and young people aged 8-18 who are either at risk or affected by violence.
Evidence shows that violence affecting young people is most likely between 3pm and 10pm on a school day, and using these hours well is critical to diverting young people away from risk of exploitation.
New two-year funding will enable the delivery of projects aimed at not just supporting young people in education and tackling school exclusions but providing training to boost employability prospects.
The VRU, which was set up and is funded by the Mayor, has more than doubled investment in its after-school Stronger Futures programme after recording:
- Nearly 1,900 young people from 14 organisations having reported improved positive peer relationships
- More than 1,500 young people with improved mental health and wellbeing
- Nearly 400 young people with improved employment prospects
New funding, delivered by partners Rocket Science and Action for Race Equality, will support experienced community organisations to deliver for even more young people at a critical time to keep young people safe and enable them to thrive. Projects include training for young people to better understand county lines exploitation, gang violence and sexual violence, additional educational support in literacy and numeracy and training to support young people into business, as well as activities and sport delivered through grassroots boxing clubs and established professional clubs like London Irish, London Tigers and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.
The VRU’s investment in after-school provision works alongside its focus on keeping children and young people in school. Its £2m Inclusive and Nurturing Schools programme is delivering in 70 primary and secondary schools, while a new £4m programme this academic year is targeted towards early identification of special educational needs and interventions to support speech and communication skills in primary schools. This investment is underpinned by the development of a London Inclusion Charter that is built around the voice of children and young people and informed by parents and carers, schools, education specialists and local authorities.
This latest funding forms part of a wider package of measures to support young people in education. It sits alongside the Mayor’s commitment to tackling school exclusions and his provision of free school meals for state-funded primary schools to ensure children do not go hungry and can achieve their potential. His £135m emergency funding means that 287,000 more primary school children in London will benefit from free school meals.
Today, the Mayor and VRU Director, Lib Peck, visited Business Launchpad in Tooting, which provides a tech hub focused on the upskilling and training of young people to help them gain employment in the technology industry. The project is funded by the VRU’s Stronger Futures programme and helps young people create and develop business ideas through to implementation.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m committed to driving down violence and building a safer city for all Londoners by being tough on violent crime and tough on its complex causes.
“Through London’s Violence Reduction Unit, I am continuing to provide record investment in prevention and early intervention and funding positive opportunities for our capital’s young people.
“I’m determined to see young Londoners develop and thrive both in and out of school. Evidence shows that after-school and weekends are high-risk periods for violence, and that’s why my VRU is working to prevent exposure to exploitation, supporting even more young people with constructive activities during those critical out-of-school hours.”