Youth workers are taking up position in a further 17 areas of our region to help keep pupils safe on the journey to and from school.
The rapidly expanding scheme, called Step Together, is led by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit and launched at Erdington Academy last month.
The initiative now has youth workers looking out for students in areas including Erdington, Lozells, the Jewellery Quarter, Newtown, Sutton Coldfield and Sparkbrook in Birmingham, as well key locations in Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The youth workers will be placed in busy areas, where lots of pupils commute to and from schools.
The scheme has been made possible thanks to a host of partners who have worked with the Violence Reduction Unit, including local councils, police, schools, businesses, parents and community members. All the partners shared one aim, which was to have more trusted adults in place to protect young people from potential violence.
Young people, school staff and community members have come together to identify where along the route the youth workers would make the most difference.
In total, 18 routes have been established across the West Midlands and will operate until the end of the school year 2022.
The region’s Violence Reduction Unit has been successful in securing £1.2 million funding from the Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund to trial the scheme as part of a pilot.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said: “I’m really pleased to see this initiative being rolled out rapidly across the West Midlands.
“It’s so important that our young people feel safe not only when they are at school, but also when they’re travelling to and from it.
“Tackling youth violence is a top priority for me and projects like this, led by the Violence Reduction Unit, are really good examples of new initiatives designed to do just that.”
Meanwhile, the Director of the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit, Claire Gollop, said: “This project demonstrates what can be achieved when communities, schools, local partnerships and the police take collective responsibility for something as fundamental as making sure our children arrive at school safely and feeling ready to learn.
“By providing trusted adults who can mentor and encourage children on their way to school, we are hoping to improve attendance and help keep our young people in education.
“The journey home is also an important transition, where lots of young people converge in predictable places – it’s a route which every child deserves to make without fear.”
The Youth Endowment Fund is contributing more than £400,000 to the scheme. Its Executive Director is Jon Yates, he said: “Too many young people in the West Midlands live in fear of violence.
“Step Together is an important project with the potential to change things.
“We hope that we can learn from the early work being done right here in the region.”
The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit is a team made up of representatives from local councils, education, health, youth, faith, community groups and the police which has been established to prevent violence in our region.
It was launched in late 2019 to help organisations work together effectively to tackle the root causes of violence.
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