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A targeted programme funded by London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has supported hundreds of young people, teachers and families in tackling exclusions and improving engagement and

attendance at schools in south London.

The VRU invested in Power the Fight to deliver therapeutic support through one-to-one mentoring and specifically-designed therapy sessions for 140 young people in two schools and one alternative provision. 

Evidence shows trauma and poor mental health are drivers of violence. Skilled specialist coaches worked with a range of young people, sometimes using targeted art therapy classes, to improve mental health and wellbeing and to develop coping mechanisms and strategies in dealing with trauma.

Recognising that tackling violence and is complex, underlying causes, requires a broader approach, Power the Fight’s programme also worked with teachers and staff, and provided support and guidance for parents and carers.

Nearly 200 teachers and staff took part in cultural sensitivity training, resulting in greater understanding of young people and reported increased inclusivity in classrooms. Alongside this, frontline coaches provided space and support for 50 parents and carers, including how to access other specific services.

The work carried out by Power the Fight builds on the VRU’s commitment to working towards education being fully inclusive, fair and available to all. The VRU is committed to tackling school exclusions and firmly believes in the importance of education and the support that good quality schools, colleges and alternative provision settings can give a young person.

The VRU is developing a London-wide inclusion charter that all London boroughs contribute to, that are locally-designed and led by each local authority in partnership with their schools.

Tackling violence and building a safer London for all is the Mayor of London’s top priority. He is being tough on violence by investing more than £1 billion in policing and set up London’s Violence Reduction Unit to lead a partnership approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention.

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said: 

“Both evidence and listening to young people shows that being in school makes children safe, it makes them feel safer and education unquestionably improves their life chances.

“Interventions carried out by skilled coaches shows the value of a trusted adult relationship in a young person’s life and how that support can often be life-changing. The support they can also provide for teachers and staff in helping young people deal with trauma and mental ill health is unparalleled.

“The fantastic work carried out by Power the Fight demonstrates the impact of this approach and builds on our shared commitment in tackling violence affecting young people and making education inclusive and accessible to all Londoners.”

Ben Lindsay, CEO and founder of Power the Fight, said:

“Power The Fight’s mission is to build more peaceful communities which we know is best done in partnership with communities themselves - the school community being one of the most important.

“We are really proud that the Therapeutic Intervention for Peace programme, funded by the VRU, has produced positive change for the young people involved. Not only can we evidence improved well-being for the young people as well as culture change within the school, but we have also seen a reduction in exclusions.

“We are proud to be putting therapists alongside young people and creating lasting positive impact in their lives, in turn creating more peaceful communities by intervening early to prevent violence. We are hopeful that this model can be learnt from, rolled out and replicated across other London boroughs in the future.” Photo by Liz, Wikimedia commons.