Our community navigators will soon be in post. In the meantime you can reach the VRU by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org…
Our community navigators will soon be in post. In the meantime you can reach the VRU by emailing us on email@example.com
What does a Community Navigator do?
Community Navigators are the VRU’s ‘people on the ground’. It is their job to work with communities, partners and stakeholders to reduce violence. We have seven navigators in total, one in each local authority area. They help co-ordinate the violence reduction effort in local neighbourhoods. They also help introduce new interventions that are designed to prevent and reduce violence.
Part of their role is to help communities access support and address issues that are causing violence. They encourage people to adopt tried and test methods which are proven to reduce violence. They empower communities to become involved in the work of the VRU and develop relationships that lead to joint decision making. The navigators also play a vital role in supporting local voluntary sector organisations with funding and developing opportunities.
Across the West Midlands the VRU has trialled a number of violence prevention initiatives in specific places. The aim is to test what works. These schemes are running in small areas, with populations of around 20,000 people and it is the navigators who are going to be managing these projects on a day to day basis.
What is the Wolverhampton Navigator focusing on?
In Wolverhampton work is taking place to test innovative approaches to violence prevention and reduction. It is hoped that the pilot will produce evidence that shows how successful some interventions can be. The pilot in Wolverhampton is focused on looked after children and care leavers and was developed in partnership with Wolverhampton City Council, local partners and stakeholders.
Context and Evidence
Wolverhampton has a population of just over 262,000. Around a quarter are aged 0-19. The City of Wolverhampton Council has 586 children and young people in care, and 300 care leavers.
The National Audit Office report ‘Care Leavers Transition to Adulthood’ (2015) notes that a third of care leavers experience homelessness between six and 24 months after leaving care. Other research highlights that over 25% of the adult prison population has been in care and care leavers are four times more likely than the general population to have mental health problems. Research suggests that when looked after children are compared with children in the general population, they tend to have poorer outcomes in a number of areas, such as educational attainment and mental and physical health (Rahilly and Hendry, 2014).
This context and evidence supported the development of a pilot in Wolverhampton, focused on children and young people in care and care leavers, with the aim of:
- Mitigating the risk factors that make violence more likely
- Building on the protective factors
- Ultimately improving outcomes for these young people.
Interventions and Activity
Lots of activity and intervention took place during the pilot period, all to support young people and children in care to ultimately improve opportunities for them:
- Strengthening support for children in care and care leavers.
- Established online webinars designed to keep young people safe and prevent them from getting involved with gangs, exploitation, domestic abuse.
- Training for staff that creates a multi-agency trauma informed network around children in care and care leavers.
- Strengthening the relationship between the police and young people in care.
- Employed mentors to work at the council’s leisure centres – developing the health and wellbeing of young people.
- Funded music groups to improve health and wellbeing.
- Funding a local football club designed for young people in care and care leavers – providing opportunities to participate in a team and engage with sport.
- Establish a peer mentor scheme for young children in care. This involved a care leaver supporting a child in care.
- Online training, in the form of games, for children and young people on topics such as bullying, internet safety, mental health and wellbeing, sexting and safe gaming.
- Access to Kooth (online mental wellbeing community) for Care Leavers up until the age of 25 to address mental wellbeing.
- Young people in care and care leavers report a higher level of wellbeing.
- Young people in care and care leavers report greater engagement with the support they need as a result of the strengthened virtual community.
- Individuals engage with a range of interventions and report increased self-esteem and confidence.
- The establishment of an online safe space that increases engagement in support.
The delivery of the pilot project was significantly interrupted by the lockdown caused by COVID 19. Work to complete the project activity is ongoing, alongside the development of another separate pilot project that will be developed in partnership with Wolverhampton Community Safety Partnerships.
Check this page for regular updates on our progress.