A WEST Midlands Police unit has been allocated £14.5million to tackle the rise of violence across the region.
The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been awarded the funds by the Home Office which will be spread across the next three years.
Some of it is ringfenced to help different services like local authorities, health agencies, and police to work more effectively together and to address the risk factors for violence, including poverty, deprivation, and trauma.
The VRU also provides services that directly support children.
The VRU has supported schools to help children who are at risk of becoming involved in violence, with noted improvements in attendance and reduced behaviour issues already.
However the unit wants to provide more options for those already caught up in violence or exploitation.
This year, the partnership has placed youth workers who have direct experience of adversity themselves into new locations such as emergency departments, sexual health clinics, exploitation hubs, and out and about in communities.
Dr Katie Wright, emergency medicine consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and the VRU’s clinical lead, said:
“Youth workers in hospitals can often connect with young people in crisis in a way that other services can’t.
“They have time to help support young people, listen, advocate and guide them to better life choices while building trust in other professionals.
“They also support our health care teams, improving our safeguarding skills and share local knowledge so we can all improve our work with young people”.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said despite today’s announcement the funds are not secured and a further application process is now underway.
Mr Foster said: “Overall, this level of funding is not in line with either the rising costs of delivering services or the steep increases in poverty and deprivation our communities are experiencing.
“The VRU supported more than 10,500 young people between April and December last year.
“Each of those young people are entitled to that support to be consistent, which is why I have underwritten the VRU services to keep them open until the government grant comes through.”