LimeCulture is thrilled to have joined forces with Abianda to develop and deliver a series of multi-agency training events for frontline professionals about girls and gangs.
In November 2013, the Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) Team at the Home Office commissioned LimeCulture and Abianda to come together to write the programme for a one-day training event for a range of professionals on how to identify and support gang-associated young women and girls to take place between January and March 2014.
Originally we were asked us to deliver 4 events (2 in London, 1 in Manchester and 1 in Nottingham). However, once they opened the events up to interested professionals who wanted to book their places, the 4 events were almost immediately oversubscribed, with over twice the demand than places available. To try and increase the number of professionals accessing the training, the Home Office have agreed to put on a further 2 days before the end March. So in total, we will be delivering 6 training events to 60 professionals each between now and March. The Home Office are also looking into whether there is any possibility of rolling more training events beyond March to meet some more of the demand from professional to access this training.
We certainly hope there will be more training events beyond March because this is such an important area for professionals to be aware of. The more professionals become aware of how girls and young women are affected by gangs, the better able we will be to identify the very real risks that these girls might face, and help to protect and support them.
We have now (at the time of writing) delivered the first 2 events (which have been supported by Public Health England, Youth Justice Board and the College of Policing) to over 60 professionals at each event, with a wide variety of organisations represented, including police officers, teachers, nurses, ISVAs and IDVAs, staff from Youth Offending Services (YOS), probation and a wide range of third sector organisations. The learning from the 2 events and the feedback from discussions with delegates have identified that there is a growing concern about the impact of gangs on girls and young women, with agencies recognising that there may be an increasing number of girls that are at risk of harm, but many remain unclear about the specific risks that these girls face, and how they manifest. For example, some of the young women may be at risk of significant violence, including sexual violence or forced into finding other girls to recruit or abuse, but they may also be at risk from being involved in criminal offending themselves, for example they may be involved in committing burglaries or drug dealing themselves or asked to hold guns or drugs for other gang members. The consequences to these young women is far reaching and significant.
From the 2 events that we have delivered so far, it is clear that there is growing concerns amongst professionals about how best to actually identify and respond to the needs of these girls. For example, many of the girls may themselves be displaying signs of disruptive or difficult (or indeed criminal) behaviour themselves. It can sometimes be difficult for professionals to see past this and identify the risk that they face or indeed what is causing them to behave in a certain way. We were told that is is difficult for professionals to know what questions to ask them (and how to ask them) to enable young women to open up and tell them honestly about the dangers they face. Importantly, the professionals at the events were able to identify that there is a very important need to support these young women without putting them at further risk. However, in practice this can be very tricky and will require a unique response from professionals that will mean that they need to utilise a different set of skills, knowledge and understanding.
Abianda and LimeCulture are looking forward to delivering the next 4 events and working with the range of professionals to raise their awareness about their role in identifying and responding to the needs of young women affected by gangs.
About Abianda and LimeCulture
ABIANDA is a social enterprise that works with young women affected by gangs and the professionals that support them. We support young women to have a voice and to influence decisions that affect their lives. Contact us here
LimeCulture is a specialist sexual violence organisations providing support to frontline professionals (and their organisations) working with victims of sexual violence. Through our range of training and development programmes, we work with frontline professionals to improve their response to victims of sexual violence to ensure that they are able to provide high-quality, safe and effective support services.