Mayor announces major VRU funding boost to treble number of … – Mayor of London

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.[1]
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:
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.”  
Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said: “We firmly believe that violence is preventable, not inevitable.
“That means using evidence to understand where best to intervene to make the biggest difference in a young person’s life. Our Stronger Futures programme recognises the importance of keeping young people safe after school and that’s why we’re building on it by boosting funding to treble the number of young people who will now access support, mentoring and vital opportunities.
“Youth workers play an integral role in this approach, which forms a key part of the VRU’s efforts to help keep young people safe to enable them to thrive.”
Felicia Mattis-Rome, CEO of Business Launchpad, said: “This valuable funding support from the VRU Stronger Futures team will enable Business Launchpad to support 80 of the most vulnerable young people across London to create generational change, combatting some of the challenges created by the current cost-of-living crisis.   
“The support offered will provide young people with employment opportunities, business support for those wishing to start up a business, and also equip them with essential digital skills. Additionally, Business Launchpad will expand the young people’s professional networks, providing them with the best opportunity to embark on a creative and fulfilling digital career path.” 
Jordan Ignatius – managing director of Reaching Higher, a programme funded to deliver after-school provision between 2021 and 2023, said:
“The VRU Stronger Futures programme has enabled Reaching Higher to significantly increase our community-based provision in response to increased need and demand, reaching over 800 young people in the past year, and offer high-quality training to our staff. 
“We have been able to offer increased safe spaces where young people can receive support with their mental health, build relationships with safe adults and with their peers, and develop their skills and confidence.  We have valued the capacity building support which has particularly helped us to revise our policies and procedures and renew our Quality Mark.”
Ashleigh, 15, who was a part of the Reaching Higher programme, said: “Reaching Higher in general has helped a lot of other people in my school not only me, witnessing this first hand I can see why. I think Reaching Higher are very successful because they inspire us as young people to be better at controlling emotions but also helping us understand why we have those emotions in the first place.” 
Simon Hogg, Leader of Wandsworth Council said: “Diverting young people away from violence and the risk of criminal exploitation is so important. This project is hugely welcome, and helps unlock the ability of organisations like Business Launchpad here in Tooting to not just divert young people away from violence, but build them up to thrive and prosper. This additional funding is great news for young people across Tooting, Wandsworth and London.”
Project organisation
Box Up Crime
Barking and Dagenham
Manor Gardens Welfare Trust
Ministry of Stories
Big House Theatre Company
Knights Youth Centre
Lambeth, Wandsworth
Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark
Organisation of Young Africans
Barnet, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Enfield, Harrow, Tower Hamlets
London Irish Foundation
Hounslow, Ealing, Richmond, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea
London Tigers
Ealing, Westminster
Salaan Peace
Waltham Forest
Coffee Afrik
Tower Hamlets, Hackney
Business Launchpad
Young Ealing Foundation
Leaders in Community
Tower Hamlets
Somali Youth Development Resource Centre
Camden, Islington
Edmonton Community Partnership
Gloves Not Gunz
Sutton, Bromley, Croydon
Tottenham Hotspur Foundation
Haringey, Enfield, Waltham Forest
Anima Youth
Southwark, Lambeth, Croydon, Waltham Forest, Merton, Newham
Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing
The Safety Box
Haringey, Enfield, Brent, Ealing, Hillingdon
Brent Refugee Services
Barnet, Brent, Camden, Harrow, Westminster, Enfield, City of London, Ealing, Hackney
Reaching Higher
Croydon, Lambeth
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