Helping a young woman involved in knife crime realise her skill set and value in life and setting her on a path to university, is just one of the successful interventions delivered through anti-violence partnership work in Slough.
Karis Stephen-Wooding from Slough Children’s Services Trust has directly supported around a quarter of the 200 young people who have been referred to the serious youth violence project within the Youth Offending Team.
Young people are referred to the project due to concerns around involvement in anti-social behaviour, carrying weapons including knives, or being vulnerable to committing violent crime and involvement in gangs or county lines activity.
Karis unpicks the reasons why young people take such options in her role which is being highlighted by the multi-agency Slough Violence Task Force.
Using a variety of techniques and working on the young person’s own specific circumstances from mind-set to home life, the intervention can change the entire direction of their life for the better.
Karis said: “It is very satisfying when you see our work having a positive effect on the young person.
“I met one young woman in a custody suite following her arrest who was very happy that this was going to be her life.
“We offered intervention and looked at her relationships with friends and her mother and found she was also homeless at the time. We realised she was very talented, worked with her, and, although on occasions we were making 10 steps forward and then more back, she found she wanted to change the path she was on and worked hard and applied to go to university.
“That is what makes this job worth it.”
Karis said the project educates young people through a variety of techniques including group sessions, one to one case management and female specific groups.
A high-impact knife awareness programme includes showing graphic images of victims who have been stabbed and listening to stories of families whose lives have been forever changed by knife crime.
It includes a visit from a gang member serving a life sentence for murder who has developed a restorative justice programme called ‘39 seconds’. The programme looks at the impact of knife crime on the perpetrator as well as the victim. He shares with the group his powerful story and how his actions as a teenager led to his conviction.
Karis said: “We see real life testimony and distressing images can sometimes have an immediate impact on the young person.”
“Also key, and a focal point of intervention, is looking at the contributing factors of why a young person may get involved in knife crime. We offer conflict resolution management and skills on how to be assertive and speak authoritatively without getting aggressive.
“What becomes obvious is these young people haven’t had any positive paths shown to them. They haven’t had the positive affirmations throughout their childhood of being told they can do whatever they want to do. This affects their self-esteem.”
First Aid is also taught to the participants so they are able to help others who come to harm.
Karis also delivers a bespoke programme Empowering Ladies Kreating Alternatives, ELKA, which addresses the specific contributory factors associated with young women who are involved in serious youth violence.
Karis said: “Girls can be the victim or the perpetrator of violent crime. A male-orientated intervention model would have no impact for girls as they generally think differently about life, are at different developmental stages and have different arguments and reasons for those arguments than boys.”
The project Karis is part of, which is funded through a partnership grant, is being highlighted by the Slough Violence Taskforce. The taskforce was established in October 2019, to coordinate partners including the local authority, police, health services, schools, and the voluntary sector. This ensures a focused, evidence based response to serious violence within the borough.
The taskforce works to identify gaps in services, support and develop interventions that tackle the root causes of violence. They work with partners to build upon resources which already exist enabling long term sustainability of solutions. Working with partners supports engagement with communities to understand social and environmental problems. The taskforce then supports the design of interventions to support those communities.
For further information, support, and help if there are concerns about a child or young person in Slough in relation to knife crime, violence or exploitation, please contact Slough Children’s Services Trust on 01753 875362, Monday to Friday, between 9am-5pm. For emergencies outside these hours call the Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543. There is also more information on the Referral and Assessment page.
Help is also available from the Family Information Service on 01753 476589.
If you are a child or young person, whatever your worry, non-judgemental help is available from Childline on 0800 1111, calls are free and won’t show on a phone bill. Help is also available through online chat or via email. Visit Childline’s website for more information.
If in immediate danger please call the police on 999.