I am extremely pleased to be one of the founding investors in the Ending Youth Violence Lab. I have seen first hand through my work with Unlocking Potential, The Beckmead Trust and the Centre for Social Justice the difficulties that many vulnerable children face, and how the lack of high-quality effective support can mean many end up involved in crime and serious violence, ruining lives as many fail to reach their potential.
The consequences of youth violence extend beyond the children and families caught up in it, impacting on our communities, society and the wider economy. This is a public health emergency which needs our full and urgent attention.
The UK has some incredible charities doing important work with children and their families. It also has world leading researchers working to understand how vulnerabilities impact on children’s life chances and the most effective ways to support better outcomes.
Yet despite important initiatives like the Youth Endowment Fund – one of the funders of the Lab – we do not yet have a funding infrastructure to respond quickly to emerging problems and to rapidly develop well evidenced solutions. The Lab will be part of the solution to this.
With a focus on innovation, taking informed risk and working at pace, it will accelerate the process of developing new interventions and supporting existing interventions to get ready for the large-scale impact evaluation to establish if they work. This will mean that as a society we have a greater range of well-evidenced approaches available to those in need of support.
The cost of living crisis will continue to put pressure on families, especially those on low incomes, and child poverty is likely to rise. Whilst it is important not to equate economic disadvantage with involvement in crime and violence, we can’t ignore the fact that the circumstances in which crime is most prevalent is set to increase.
I look forward to working with the Lab to address youth violence, by supporting vulnerable children through high-quality and well evidenced approaches which improve their life chances.