VERU takes its positive message to Downing Street

We have taken our positive message of hope about young people to Downing Street.

VERU head Kimberley Lamb was among a delegation which was hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

Kimberley plays a leading role in the Hope Collective, a partnership of youth organisations which has come together from the Damilola Taylor Trust.

Bedfordshire’s VERU features in the collective alongside other leaders in the sector such as UK Youth, the NCS (formerly National Citizen Service) and Leaders Unlocked.

Over the past year young people involved in the collective had organised six events across the country to come up with ideas and solutions to the issues that mattered to them.

They then took these ideas directly to the Prime Minister during a reception at Downing Street, held to mark 21 years since Damilola was killed in London and 20 years since his family set up a charitable trust in his honour.

Kimberley said: “I am a firm believer that young people can and will do great things if they are empowered to do so.

“All the young people involved in this project have worked together voluntarily for six months in their own time to organise these events and come up with a comprehensive plan to address things that matter to them.

“I know Boris Johnson and his team were blown away by the work they produced – and so was I!”

The delegation from the Hope Collective outside Downing Street

The VERU coordinates the response to violence and exploitation across Bedfordshire in areas such as data, governance and communications, and has invested around £300,000 this year into community projects focussed on prevention and early intervention with young people.

Our Youth Intervention Specialist (YIS) team has worked with hundreds of young people and families directly affected by exploitation as well as delivering talks to hundreds of students and staff at schools and education establishments across the county, as well as key professionals from other sectors.

Among our flagship projects are a dedicated training package for hospital doctors and staff here in Bedfordshire, to help them recognise and engage with exploited children impacted by violence, as well as delivering a project alongside the Young Enterprise charity at HMP Bedford.

Niven Rennie, chair of the Hope Collective and director of the Scotland Violence Reduction Unit, said: “I was delighted to visit Downing Street with the Hope Collective.

“It was important political recognition of the voices of the young people who engaged with us this year.

“But this is only the start: next year we will be more ambitious and provide a further platform for young people across the UK to set the agenda for change.”

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “This was a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic work of our VERU.

“I am pleased that the Prime Minister had the chance to hear about how the Bedfordshire VERU is working alongside other organisations to help empower and support our young people.

“The funding that PCCs provide to support prevention and early intervention work is fundamental to being able to spot the signs of exploitation and those impacted by violence.

“I will continue to commission services to be provided in our schools, and to vulnerable people as well as perpetrator focussed work so that we can continue to steer our youngsters away from criminal pathways and provide the help that is needed.”

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