VERU in View - September
Good morning and thank you for taking the time to read this summer edition of VERU in View. As we get up and running at the start of a new school term, I am thrilled to use this edition of the newsletter to launch our VERU Education products. This is a crucial strand of our work under the VERU Village.
Tasha Case and her youth intervention specialist (YIS) team have already reached more than 2,700 young people and more than 500 professionals since launching in February 2020 with group sessions and as well one-to-one targeted deliveries and mentoring. The education offering and lesson plan will formalise this offering and ensure the team is able to expand its reach into education settings across Bedfordshire.
If you work in education and want the YIS team to deliver an input to your students and staff, then please email us to arrange. This is one of a number of exciting projects we will be launching over the coming weeks under our VERU Village brand. Results of our local evaluation will also be announced soon.
As for myself, I have been busy with a number of national meetings and events. I was part of a roundtable with Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch looking at boosting trust, preventing crime and fostering feelings of belonging, and am due to meet with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse later this month as part of his regular liaison with violence reduction units (VRUs) around the country. I will be arguing for more sustained and longer terms funding for VRUs, rather than the annual funding settlements we are currently awarded by the Home Office.
As national leads among VRUs for community engagement, I am working with my fellow leads from Greater Manchester on a package that can be rolled out more widely to other VRUs in specific areas. I am due to appear on a UK Youth experts panel and a podcast about building thriving communities, while I am also involved in planning for the National Black Police Association conference in Bedfordshire next month. This is a real coup for us to host this prestigious annual conference in the county, and I will be delivering a workshop at the event to showcase the work of the VERU to guests from across the country as well as internationally.
This is one of a number of exciting updates and projects outlined in this month’s edition, so please keep reading on and thank you as always for your support and interest in the VERU.
Head of the VERU
Neon shines a light on exploitation
Almost 100 medical professionals have signed up to a pioneering training programme to help hospital staff in Bedfordshire spot the signs a child is being exploited.
The Neon project is a joint venture between the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Gangsline.
The course aims to give staff at both Bedford and the Luton & Dunstable hospitals the skills and confidence they need to be a beacon of hope for vulnerable young people caught up in street violence – hence the phrase ‘neon’.
Kimberley co-designed the training alongside Sheldon Thomas, founder of the charity Gangsline who works for our youth intervention specialist (YIS) team, and David Kirby, the deputy medical director of the NHS trust in Bedfordshire.
Some 96 medical professionals signed up to take the course within a few days of it being released, with funding for staff to take the course all provided by the VERU.
Those signed up so far include A&E doctors, paediatricians and nurses.
You can view more information about the Neon project on our website, or alternatively watch ITV Anglia’s coverage of the project online.
YIS team update
A big piece of work over the past month has been refreshing the YIS team’s referrals process.
Community members are welcome to contact us via the referrals form on our website.
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about the process or wished to discuss a particular case.
Finally – I am excited to say I have made my TV debut! I was thrilled to appear on BBC Look East this week talking about ‘deets and squares’ and ‘money mules’ to raise awareness of this type of criminal exploitation.
We know young people are being targeted on platforms like social media to launder criminal gangs’ money and it is important we get the word out to encourage people to say no and speak to people they trust.
YIS Team coordinator
Free briefings for professionals
Our exploitation lead Lisa Robinson has organised a series of free briefings for professionals over the next few months.
This includes general briefings on the threat from violence, exploitation and organised crime, with inputs from police and partners around the nature of this threat and how to report concerns.
The first of these takes place on 12 October.
We have also worked with the National Working Group to organise a webinar on victim blaming language and terminology, as it is really important we get this right when we are speaking with and engaging victims and other vulnerable people.
This webinar enables us to discuss victim-blaming language and how we can accurately and sensitively record and report on victim experiences. The aim of this webinar is to share practice between agencies and to explore ways in which we can develop the language we use.
The first of these takes place on 28 September.
To book your place visit the Safeguarding Bedfordshire website and click ‘Log In/Register’. Please search for the course title for more details.
Need help? Contact LearningCentral@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
Plus Lisa and our analyst Benita Branagan have also created a brief one page ‘parents as partners’ one page guide, which outlines some key tips and suggestions for how professionals can best engage with parents.
The YIS Team , Link To Change and FACES all provided information included within the document.
All of these briefings are really helpful and can be circulated more widely.
PCC violence reduction events
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye is a big supporter of our work and we are really grateful to have his ongoing support.
His office is organising a series of public meetings across the county to discuss directly with communities how they would like to see violence and exploitation being tackled.
- The exploitation guidance documents on our website are excellent guides to responding to exploitation, which follow the approved processes we have in Bedfordshire to responding to all forms of exploitation.
- This includes the multi-agency information submission form. Please – if you have concerns about someone you know or work with, fill out one of these forms and ensure these concerns are passed on to the right people who can make a difference.
- There are specialist drug and alcohol support services available for young people in Bedfordshire.
- Bedford / Central Bedfordshire – Aquarius – Email YPBedfordshire@aquarius.org.uk – Call 0300 008 3925 – Call/Text/Whatsapp 07467 336203
- Luton – ResoLUTiONs – Call 0800 054 6603 – Email firstname.lastname@example.org – Visit resolutions4luton.org