Specialist Youth Worker (360G-OCF-A494128)
We promote the development of the personal, social & educational potential of young people between the ages of 11 and 15 years living in the area encompassed by Vale of the White Horse ans South Oxfordshire District Councils and in particular those who are disadvantaged by adverse social conditions. We currently focus our work in South Abingdon and Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon (the first letters of the village names form the acronym DAMASCUS). We are rooted within these communities and work in partnership with Thames Valley police, schools, MASH, Kingfisher and other agencies to deliver positive outcomes for disenfranchised young people. Our core target group consists of young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds with non-existent social mobility. They are variously disengaged from education, lack appropriate support and boundaries at home, experience deprivation, community isolation; succumb to negative peer pressure, have poor life skills and at risk of involvement/already involved with drugs and alcohol and other anti-social behaviour and have unfettered access to social media and inappropriate websites. We have prevented cases of grooming for sexual exploitation, dealing drugs and joining gangs with associated intimidation and violence through our work and partnership with police. Our street-smart youth workers are out on the streets late in to evenings, building trusting relationships and identifying issues which are followed up with bespoke one-to one-support and through high-impact workshops to address the shocking realities of " drugs / streets life" and destroy popular myths and misconceptions. We enable these young people to reflect on how they perceive themselves, their home, communal environments and develop a sense of belonging through opportunities to be recognised for positive youth leadership within community. This also helps them in future job prospects as we are an accredited centre for the award of AQA certificates in achievement.We have a track record of working in partnership with police to prevent escalation such that vulnerable young people are groomed or become victims of drugs, violence and gang membership. As PC James Barraclough of the Abingdon Town Policing Team says, "One more young person that engages with Damascus is one less young person I have to see". Inspector Mags Turner of Thames Valley Police said, " I wish there was a Damascus in every community". Outside the shops in the Gainsborough Green Area of South Abingdon we averted a potential violent and grooming incident when a known gang from Oxford pulled up at our street session. We were able to share intelligence picked up on the streets about gangs from London occupying houses in local villages and towns to groom our young people in to dealing. Following the death of a man in the South Abingdon community, 'Olders' (men from Saxton road aged 20+ ) had been drinking all day and threatening the 'Youngers' (under 16) they saw on the street. A young person got threatened with a knife and was scratched on his face. Young people talked of revenge and the need to carry a weapon for protection. We calmed the situation and got them thinking rationally about the danger of carrying knives for protection. The grant will enable us to employ a specialist youth worker with experience of working on youth gang culture and knife crime prevention in London, to deliver effective interventions engaging both those actively participating in gang and knife related high-risk activities and those on the periphery to reduce exploitation of young people through gang membership and reducing and preventing violent crime. In the course of the work we will share police relevant gang data as well as effectiveness of substance misuse services.
£6,000 12 Oct 2018