MPs, doctors, councillors and police leaders from across Enfield and Haringey have pledged to join forces to reduce the chances of young people being victims of youth-on-youth violence.
In the first of its kind, the local community leaders came together for a ‘roundtable’ session, chaired by North Mid chief executive Maria Kane, where they heard firsthand about the impact of rising youth-on-youth violence in this part of the capital from a victim of knife crime as well as a leading doctor who specialises in child protection and emergency care,.
Dr Gayle Hann, North Mid’s named doctor for child protection and lead for paediatric emergency medicine, talked the local representatives through a first person perspective of what an A&E shift can be like for healthcare staff who are ‘picking up the pieces’ after incidents of knife and gun crime in the local area.
Dr Hann, who was last week named as one of London’s top 20 ‘leading lights’ in health services by the Evening Standard in their annual Progress1000 awards, said:
“Across both Haringey and Enfield, we’ve seen a big rise over the past year in the number of children and young people affected by violent crime – more than nine per cent in Enfield, and over 11 per cent in Haringey. The biggest burden of youth-on-youth violence is on young people themselves, and as a doctor, as well as a mother, I know it’s absolutely vital that all the organisations who come into contact with children, young people and families commit to joining forces to tackle this issue, for our children’s sake, and our children’s children.”
The local leaders also heard from Amani Simpson, who is campaigning to educate young people about youth-on-youth violence with a film that shows his personal story of being stabbed seven times, and his subsequent work as a community leader and young people’s mentor.
The film, which is being crowdfunded, will be used in schools to help steer young people away from what he calls “a road filled with so much darkness”.
The councillors, MPs and other attendees all commended the project and suggested that primary school pupils as well as teenagers could benefit from learning about how to avoid some of the risks that increase as they get older.
With limited resources for additional interventions, the group agreed that aligning efforts across the public and voluntary sectors, as well as targeting support towards those most vulnerable, would be instrumental in making a genuine difference.
Chief Executive of NorthMid, Maria Kane, said:
This (youth on youth) is an issue that is of tremendous importance to everyone at this Trust, not just because we are the hospital where, sadly, so many victims – and indeed, perpetrators – of violence end up, but because we are such a central part of our local community, and want the very best for everyone in it.
“We want to use our position in the local system to support the changes that we know need to happen, and I’m simultaneously delighted and grateful that so many local leaders have agreed to align efforts and expertise, in order to make a real difference for our local young people.”
The group has committed to examining existing research and good practice in other London boroughs, as well as identifying what each individual organisation can improve on as a ‘quick win’. It will meet again early in 2019 to develop a firm plan that could bring together cross-system mentors, scrutinise travel and afterschool offers, and focus resources further vulnerable children, young people and their families.