YOUNG victims of violence who are admitted to A&E departments across four hospitals in Greater Manchester now have the opportunity to receive support from youth workers, in a new scheme managed by Oasis Charitable Trust.
Launched in May, the GM Navigator project will offer support to young people aged ten to 25. Three youth workers will work with a young person who has asked for support for up to six weeks. Commissioned by the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit, the scheme will run for one year and will be evaluated by Manchester Metropolitan University.
This week, the director of Oasis’s north-west cluster and lead of its Oldham hub, Andrew Smyth, stressed the importance of offering young people advocates and access to “positive relationships”.
After an emergency admission, the youth workers could serve as a “safe person to talk to in the middle of the chaos”, he said In a typical day, a youth worker might visit a young person on a ward, offer support to families waiting in A&E, or help someone to explore what risky behaviour had brought them to this point. All three youth workers have received training, drawing on trauma-informed practice, which will continue throughout the year.
The youth workers worked only with young people who wanted their support, Mr Smyth emphasised. Some had refused it initially, but later requested ongoing support outside the hospital. This could entail work with the whole family on access to help in schooling, relationships, careers, housing, finances, and mental health.
Youth violence had many roots, Mr Smyth said, including deprivation, isolation, and exclusion from school. Some young people began to carry a weapon after experiencing violence, he said.
A consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and clinical lead for Greater Manchester’s VRU, Dr Rachel Jenner, said that the scheme was “a fantastic opportunity to make a difference to the outcomes for these vulnerable individuals. The doctors and nurses working in A&E are skilled at dealing with the injuries that can occur, but we welcome the expertise of youth workers in addressing the causes of violence to build a better future for everyone in Greater Manchester.”
Greater Manchester’s Serious Violence Action Plan, which was launched in June of last year, reported that, from 2015 to 2018, knife crime in the city-region almost doubled, and there was a rise in admissions to Greater Manchester hospitals of people who had injuries caused by weapons involved in incidents of violent crime.
The most recent available data suggest a decrease of 16 per cent for knife-related hospital admissions (all ages) between April 2018 and March 2020. But there were still nearly 1000 under-18s admitted to A&E in Greater Manchester A&E as a result of assault, including nearly 90 as a result of assault with a knife.