The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is investing new funding of £7.4m in a series of activities beginning this summer to provide positive opportunities for young people and tackle violence in the capital.
London’s VRU is funding a wide range of activities for children and young people during the summer holidays and beyond to keep them safe and supported with positive and constructive things to do.
The Mayor has voiced concerns about the soaring cost-of-living pushing more people into poverty and deprivation this summer, and has written to the Prime Minister to provide emergency funding to go alongside his efforts in providing access to activities and opportunities for young people.
The Mayor’s VRU, the first in the country, is investing in programmes that are delivering in areas most affected by violence and at a time of the year when evidence shows violence can increase.
New funding starting this summer features:
- £2m VRU funding in sport and physical activity delivering activities during the summer and throughout all school holidays for the next two years. With the support of the Mayor’s sports team and London Youth, activities are focused on not only competitive sport but physical and mental wellbeing, safety and educational and employment outcomes in areas typically underserved by sports provision. Funding is also providing support for young people as they transition from primary to secondary school, and to provide food and help with travel costs to make it easier for young people to take part.
- £1.5m funding, starting this summer, to support up to 54 grassroots community organisations to deliver prevention and diversionary projects to tackle violence. The VRU’s two-year Innovation Fund, which launches on Monday, will provide pots of money up to £50k to support innovative community-led ideas that can be piloted and potentially scaled up. The VRU wants to support those who are closest to the issues with the resources they need to test and find new solutions to issues in their neighbourhoods.*
- £3.9m investment in tackling online harms. A new report from Barnardo’s found that seven in 10 children surveyed will spend more time online during the holidays, while one in 10 said they will meet up with people they have met online but don’t know in person. The children’s charity has warned that this, together with the impact of the rising costs affecting families’ access to activities, means the risk of exploitation will increase.
- The VRU’s new Social Switch programme, led by Catch22 and Redthread, will support more than 1,000 children and young people to stay safe online from this summer and over the next three years. It will support young people aged 16-30 who may be at risk of violence or exploitation, providing them with skills to stay safe and mentors to develop careers in the digital sector. The programme will also train more than 2,000 London-based practitioners to better support young people navigate being online.
Alongside this, through the London Crime Prevention Fund, the VRU continues to fund local authorities to deliver prevention programmes to support young people during the school holidays, while its award-winning community-led MyEnds programme operating in eight neighbourhoods across London is providing mentoring, sports activities and residential opportunities, as well as working with those identified as needing support as they prepare to start secondary school in September. On Monday, the VRU brought together nearly 90 grassroots organisations, local authorities and young people to promote and raise awareness of the wide range of activities being delivered locally and across London for young people.
City Hall also supports Local Village Network – a grassroots organisation that provides an app signposting to 2,500 free services, activities and opportunities, and mentoring services for 14–24-year-olds.
The Mayor joined VRU Director Lib Peck today in Tottenham to see how the WeMove Dance project is delivering sport and physical activities for young people during the holidays, and the positive impact it is having on young people.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “I’m committed to tackling violence and building a safe city for all Londoners by being tough on violence and tough on its complex causes.
“We have made progress with homicides, knife and gun crime having fallen since 2016, but the spiralling cost-of-living threatens to exacerbate the drivers of violence with more families affected by poverty and deprivation.
“I set up and fund London’s VRU to lead an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention because I’m determined to keep young people safe and ensure they have access to activities and opportunities to thrive this summer.”
Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said, “We firmly believe that violence is preventable, not inevitable and a key part of our approach is putting children and young people first.
“The VRU listens to and works with young people and families and we know how profound the cost-of-living is on them and how it impacts access to positive opportunities.
“We have seen the positive impact of the Mayor’s investment in prevention through the VRU and that’s now working to deliver support online, sport and physical activity, and diversionary activities led by communities throughout the important summer holiday period.”