Essex County Council (ECC) has been awarded a grant of £56,758 from the Youth Endowment Fund to support young people at risk of being drawn into violent crime through the COVID-19 pandemic.
ECC will use the funding to launch a new online programme of support to help vulnerable young people access mentoring from a trained youth adviser. The programme has been developed to reduce stress and anxiety felt by young people who have not been able to access regular support due to social distancing and stay-at-home measures. It will be delivered online in two distinct activities for 10-14 year olds.
One is an activity for those who are at risk of being in an abusive relationship, or who are at risk of entering into an abusive relationship in future. It will educate young people about the value of respect and the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. It will equip them with the necessary skills to develop and maintain healthy relationships, and help them recognise how to break away in an appropriate way.
The second activity is aimed at young people susceptible to being drawn into criminal activity. It explores better decision making and the realities of crime, dispelling the myths surrounding it. Those attending will gain an increased knowledge of the impact criminal activity can have on their lives, not only in the present, but in relation to their future opportunities.
Councillor Ray Gooding, ECC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded funding for this initiative. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressure on vulnerable young people while simultaneously decreasing contact from those supporting them. This programme will bolster the work we’re already doing and can make a huge difference to the lives of many young people and families in Essex.”
Jon Yates, Executive Director at Youth Endowment Fund, said: “It has been too easy to forget vulnerable young people during this crisis. The pandemic has removed much of the critical support that many of them rely upon – from teachers to youth workers. This funding will help us find the best way to reach and support these young people when they most need it.”
The Youth Endowment Fund is an independent charitable trust set up by the Home Office. It funds, supports and evaluates projects in England and Wales which work to prevent children and young people from being drawn into violent crime.
ECC is one of 130 organisations to share part of a £6.5m grant pot from the Youth Endowment Fund to help at-risk young people impacted by COVID-19.
ECC’s scheme launches Essex-wide on 3 August 2020. For more information about the service, if you know someone who would benefit or would like to make a referral into it, please visit the Youth Services website at youth.essex.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org