Lambeth Council launched the Lambeth Made Safer For Young People strategy at the start of this year with the aim of making the borough one of the safest places in London for children, teenagers and young adults by 2030. We are adamant that through working closely with our communities we will achieve this ambition.
The council is taking a long-term, public health approach to addressing violence experienced in our communities – intervening as early as possible so that the aspirations of a young person do not become limited due to the obstacles that they encounter in life. Over the next decade the strategy will guide partnership efforts in Lambeth to reduce the number of victims and perpetrators – often the same people – of serious violence affecting young people every year.
However, in the short and medium term, measures to support the strategy, and help keep people safe, are being organised and run by the council in recognition that there are immediate needs as well as a community that is united behind our long term goal.
This year a comprehensive ‘Summer of the Great Outdoors’ is being developed to organise activities for young people in parts of the borough where statistically there is the highest risk of violence affecting young people. We know that incidents such as the unacceptable scenes witnessed in Brixton rightly make media headlines.
But we also know that ongoing factors such as domestic violence, school exclusions, poverty and discrimination still impact on too many young people’s lives. The story may move on but the negative impacts of these factors continue to be felt by our young people.
School holidays can be a pressure point for families because of increased costs such as food and childcare and reduced incomes. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this situation even worse.
Our free holiday clubs are a response to this issue so we can have a positive impact on the physical and mental health of children. Evidence shows they work best when they provide consistent and easily accessible positive activities, when they offer more than just breakfast and lunch and when they involve children and parents in food preparation. Our Holiday Activity and Food programme works in exactly that way.
We expect that this summer our children and young people, including those will special education needs, will be attending 83 sites across the borough, 3,544 sessions available per day and a total of 60,073 sessions in total across the summer.
The council’s public protection team will be out throughout the summer working with residents and our other partners including the Met police to address on street issues. Their patrols will be used to speak to people in our streets, parks and other public places to explain to people their obligations about community safety in a bid to pre-empt large gatherings that could result in crime and anti-social behaviour.
With Covid-19 restrictions still in place this has been an ongoing piece of work that has resulted in a number of potentially dangerous situations averted and when situations have escalated provided the Met with help in engaging with our local communities.
Looking ahead our anti-violence work this summer will also include:
- Funding local organisations in vulnerable areas to work with young people to prevent violence
- More support for the communities affected by violence
- Close working with the police to target those people exploiting our young people
The challenges ahead remain very real, but Lambeth Council is determined to work with its communities and its partners on activities and interventions that make a real difference to our young people’s lives both in the short, medium and long-term.