A major new network of community groups and organisations has been launched to bring a collective effort to tackle the violence and exploitation of young people in Bedfordshire.
The VERU Village brings together the likes of teachers, faith leaders, charities and young people to work together and support families and professionals in combatting things like knife crime and gang exploitation.
The initiative by the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit reflects the unit’s mantra that it takes a village to raise a child.
The VERU has today (Tuesday) also announced more than £200,000 investment in different projects across the county which will work to support young people and provide things like sports activities, outreach work and mentoring.
A whole host of other community programmes to tackle violence and exploitation, commissioned by the likes of the VERU, the OPCC and Dallow Cares, has been collated on our website.
Tasha Case, the VERU’s community and engagement lead, said: “Over the last four years, the VERU has been privileged to build fruitful relationships with countless organisations and community members across Bedfordshire and beyond.
“These relationships have since become the support system and preventative measure that thousands of young people have benefitted from – that is the VERU Village.
“We are a collective of partners and professionals with a vested interest in the wellbeing and welfare of young people.
“By working in partnership across different agencies and working together to achieve a common goal, we can ensure young people in communities across Bedfordshire are much safer.”
The VERU Village will be structured around six ‘huts’ – education, faith, family, frontline, inclusion and leisure.
These different huts will work to provide tailored support and coordinate activity in these relevant areas, such as to educators working in schools and colleges, frontline workers, sports and leisure activity providers as well as faith leaders.
Dozens of different people have taken on roles to support the VERU Village, ranging from healthcare workers and teachers through to charity executives and theatre groups.
The concept will launch with an event at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick this evening (Tuesday), while further information is available on a dedicated section of the VERU website which was relaunched this week.
Nigel Taylor, a VERU Village elder and church pastor, said: “The VERU Village has been established to house a collection of supportive, prevention and intervention diversionary huts across Bedfordshire.
“These huts will support countywide activities and initiatives designed to raise awareness of child exploitation and the ripple effects that it has on the community.
“The VERU Village is community and young person led, with the support from VERU employees and partners. All Bedfordshire residents and professionals are welcomed to become members of VERU Village.”
You can view a full list of the VERU’s funded projects on the Our Projects section of the website.