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Dozens of young people in the West Midlands who have experienced severe trauma in their lives and are now regularly in trouble with the police are to be offered counselling in an attempt to break the cycle of crime.

Experts recognise that children who experience adversity, such as living with parents who are addicted to drink or drugs or living with domestic abuse, are more likely to end up in trouble with the law themselves as they grow up.

The counselling initiative has been launched by the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) which was set up in 2019 to tackle the causes and drivers of violence. Whilst the police investigate crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice, the VRP works to prevent violence from happening in the first place.

In total, 85 people will be offered counselling across Birmingham and the Black Country. The majority will be aged 25 and under.

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is being provided by AVision, is designed to help young people work through conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, paranoia or extreme anxiety. The aim is to help young people gain more control over their thoughts, feelings and actions, overcome the impacts of trauma they’ve experienced, and to enable them to make better decisions.

“This intervention is an important contribution to the action we are taking to prevent and reduce violence”, said the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster.

“Whilst we need robust policing to hold offenders to account for their actions via the criminal justice system, we have known for a long time that we cannot simply arrest our way out of the problem of high levels of violence.

“Schemes like this can help tackle violence head on and prevent people from reoffending time and again.”

Meanwhile, The CEO and Founder of AVision, Avril Grant, said: “It’s a sad reality that our young people are exposed to violence at such a young age and many experience trauma.

“It’s important that young people have a safe space where they can feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. All our experienced counsellors and therapists are culturally competent and easy to relate to.

“At AVision we believe it takes a joined-up approach to reduce youth violence and a critical part of that process is about healing the wound itself, rather than putting a plaster over it.

“With better understanding they can then break a negative cycle and build a new path towards transformation and hopefully, aspiration.”

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