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The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been allocated almost £200,000 from the Home Office as part of a new Winter Contingency Fund.

This funding, of £198,760, will support frontline charities and social enterprises in their efforts to protect and engage young people and children at risk of serious violence. 

The VRU was launched in Autumn 2019 and brings together different organisations including police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to prevent violence by tackling its root causes.

The continuing pandemic has resulted in a greater need from frontline services.

The funding has already been allocated to 25 organisations across the region to enhance their service offers during the winter months, which are ordinarily a difficult time for young people and those working to support them.

The fund will enable organisations like First Class Legacy to provide vulnerable young people with safe spaces during a socially isolated time. They will be utilising social media and other digital modes of communication to broadcast positive youth-led messages about wellbeing and anti-youth violence, as well as offering mentoring and coaching to vulnerable young people.

It will also support The Smethwick Anti-Violence Initiative (SAVI) in continuing their work on local initiatives to reduce violence in Smethwick and to support victims of violence. This will involve setting up a Schools of Sanctuary Network, developing provision of language support, and investment into resources that enable safe practice in working with vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Welcoming the funding, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said:

“This funding will help ensure the Violence Reduction Unit can continue its mission to safeguard our communities. The money will enable charities and social enterprises to support those most affected by violence, especially during the pandemic.

“The work we have underway already is doing excellent work with communities and local organisations. They’ve really struggled during the pandemic so this funding will be immediately put to good use.

“Nonetheless, the Government must ensure a long term funding solution for Violence Reduction Units – reducing violence and tackling its root causes needs a long term strategy and is not a quick fix.”

Representing the partnership, Director of the VRU, Clare Gollop said:

“Working with local organisations to support community led action is at the heart of what we do. These services are well placed to meet local needs and to support young people   through this particularly difficult winter. This funding will help them continue the vital work they do, in building safer and better futures for all of our children.”

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