The Resilience Programme
The Resilience Programme has been developed over a number of years by Resilience UnLimited, a not for profit company, working to improve the safety, mental health and well-being of young people in England and Wales who are at risk of harm from gang and youth violence. Resilience Unlimited believe that a major part of the solution to the current risks posed by county lines activity comes from strong, active, educated communities providing effective alternatives to violence, drugs and gang life.
Resilience Unlimited is supported by We Can Work It Out Ltd, a dedicated transformational change consultancy service with a strong track record of designing and implementing change and continuous improvement initiatives in the community. Our teams, with over 15 years’ experience and networking in the health and criminal justice sectors, have been delivering gang, youth violence and knife crime prevention initiatives in the community, working with local authorities at either end of county lines activity. Close working links with the UK’s only National Centre for Gangs Research, has added further reach, resilience and value to our work. Using our experience of what is working for communities and filling ‘gaps’ in existing models, we have developed three lines of defence to building community resilience to the threats posed by gangs, knife and drug crime.
Line 1 – resilience through education
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela) Using our sector knowledge and our network of subject matter experts, we can deliver dedicated information and educational resource for young people and parents, explaining the nature of the risks posed by gang activity locally, where the gang activity is in their region (taken from current police data) outlining key signs and symptoms of gang membership, as well as suggestions for resolving the issues. The online resource, marketed using social media tools and search engine optimisation, also covers essential recent developments in this area – for example, the increase in women and young girls’ involvement in gangs, as well as the quickly evolving use and dangers of social media and other digital technology in gang activity.
Linked to the online resource, we can also deliver a dedicated Community Directory for each region; creating a comprehensive up-to-date online directory of support services and organisations, descriptions of what help is on offer, contact details, and links to organisation’s websites. This ensures support to young people and their families is accessible and delivered as quickly as possible. From our experience in this area, we have found that although a significant amount of support exists in the community in key areas, a lack of coordination and communication of the nature and extent of available services and how to access them, has meant that maximum benefits are not delivered and opportunities missed. Furthermore, in our experience, much of the existing information in the public domain can be out-of-date meaning current insightful information can be difficult to access for affected families at a time of need or stress.
Line 2 – resilience through support
We co-ordinate and deliver with the community, a team of local ‘community peer advisors’ trained in understanding the causes, signs and symptoms of gang activity, with the ability to listen to and engage with young people and their families, and to signpost them to the support services and networks they need.
We have developed our volunteer outreach programme using insights gained from careful co-production with young people, role models, people with lived experience, community groups, and experts in the field of criminal justice/gang activity, as well as health and social care partners.
We have created an alternative narrative with young people, for young people , which has enabled our advisors to promote positive choices and alternatives to gang life for young people they meet.
We have developed using our established network, a dedicated training and development programme for our volunteers, offering accredited training, giving young people and those passionate about making a difference a confident voice, and the core skills for use in their day-to-day lives. For example, listening, coaching, communication skills.
Feedback received from one of our recent training events in a London borough showed that 100% of those attending rated the training as ‘excellent’ giving them “invaluable insight into the issues underlying the wave of serious youth violence we have seen recently”.
Furthermore, 100% of attendees reported they were better equipped to handle interactions with ‘at risk’ young people following the training.
Line 3 – resilience through leadership
As part of our work, we use dedicated, costed research input from the National Centre for Gangs Research to critically evaluate not only individual projects but to also assess the benefits of our work in an area as a whole, providing independent expert evidence of what is working in the community and what could work better.
Creating and working with Resilient Community Boards, we ensure that we capture the right, quality data, map trends and patterns within the region and record tangible examples of what works in interim and annual reports.
With access to government and senior leaders, working alongside the National Centre, we can ensure the evidence base from the region informs local and central government decision making, policing policy and influences the wider response to tackling the risks posed by street gangs, county lines activity and serious youth violence.
Our campaigns in this area currently include demonstrating to the government how some of the unintended consequences from existing housing and family relocation schemes are actively seeding county lines activity in rural areas.
We can help deliver and embed Local Community Resilience Programme Boards, ensuring that support continues after the programme ends.
As our network of resilient communities grow, we aim to bring that network together so that different areas of the country and diverse communities can share information, successes, challenges, and ideas of what works and what matters in tackling drugs, knife and gang violence.
Other aspects of our offer
No two communities are the same. We can adapt our offer to meet the needs of different and diverse communities.
We also provide as part of our Resilience Programme:
- Bespoke training sessions using experienced, expert speakers.
- Age appropriate, interactive, educational input for schools and colleges – making sure children and young people are aware of the risks outside the college gate.
- Secure knife and weapon amnesty facilities/bins – supplied, maintained, emptied regularly and safely, with quarterly reporting on their use.
- Developing local mentorship and coaching schemes.