Youth Safety: In-Focus

Overrepresented Children Pathfinder Project

Newham’s Pathfinder project tackles disproportionality

Newham Council is working with the Youth Justice Board, the government body responsible for overseeing the youth justice system in England and Wales, to run the Overrepresented Children Pathfinder project. 

The project’s aim is to prevent Black, Asian and other minority ethnic children and young people, who have who been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, from becoming perpetrators or victims in the youth justice system.

The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities means children and young people from these communities are more likely to have an increased level of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

ACEs are highly stressful, and traumatic, events or situations that occur during childhood and/or adolescence such as bereavement, living in a household where there is addiction, mental illness, domestic violence or financial hardship.

Research shows that these issues have increased as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

A spokesperson for the Pathfinder said: “Studies also show that, if left unaddressed, these traumatic experiences can increase the likelihood of a child or young person becoming involved with the justice system. 

“Through a range of different support services, the Overrepresented Children Pathfinder project can provide help to children, young people and their families as early as possible to overcome these adverse childhood experiences. Services include mentoring, counselling, parenting advice and employment support.”

The project runs until 2023 and although still in its early stages, an independent evaluation of the project so far has found “children and young people are receiving valuable support which builds their resilience and puts them in a stronger position to overcome the challenges they have faced or continue to face as a result of COVID-19”.

The evaluation also reports that parents, carers and families of those engaged in the Pathfinder were more resilient and better able to meet the needs of their children.

Home environments were also reported to be more harmonious, with less tension.

For more information about the Pathfinder project including the referral process, please visit our Newham Council Pathfinder project page.

The Preventing Child Exploitation and Harm Hub (PCEHH)

Multi-agency hub helps to improve youth safety

The Preventing Child Exploitation and Harm Hub (PCEHH), which started this May, is a multi-agency group that meets weekly to discuss and agree a coordinated package of support for children and young people at risk of any form of exploitation and/or serious youth violence.  Since the start of PCEHH, 141 children and young people from 61 families have been referred to it.

The Hub also maintains a level of oversight and scrutiny over active “cases” once a package of support is agreed. This ensures that children, young people and their families receive timely and appropriate support.

Audrey Johnson, Director of Early Help and Children’s Health and Chair of PCEHH, said: “The Preventing Child Exploitation and Harm Hub is a vital part of the single exploitation pathway, ensuring that children and young people at risk are identified early and benefit from a robust offer of support to reduce risks and keep them safe in the community and in their homes.

“In bringing together the knowledge, expertise and resources of all partners, the Hub is able to share information swiftly, create a full picture of risk and need and provide a creative and effective response that is always guided by the particular needs and wishes of the individual child, young person and their family.”

She said that partners in PCEHH are “driven to intervene at the lowest level possible”, ensuring the right package of support is delivered by the right person when it is most needed.

Audrey added: “The Adolescent Exploitation Strategy placed a clear emphasis on early help and prevention to ensure that we identify, support and protect children before harm is experienced.   In a very short time, the PCEHH has become a strong cohesive partnership consisting of professionals and agencies committed to delivering a child-centred approach to reducing and responding to risk.”

Residential Programme for Vulnerable Young People

Residential programme for vulnerable young people takes off  

A new residential programme has given vulnerable young people a safe place to learn and enjoy positive activities with their peers.

Building trust and establishing a positive relationship with young people is crucial to any successful intervention.

Research shows that young people who are exploited or who engage in risky sexual behaviours often feel guilt and shame which affects their level of openness and willingness to engage.

Senior Manager Gemma Wright said: “We started this programme to provide young people with a safe place to enjoy a happy and carefree experience with their peers.   

“The programme enables professionals to develop a trusting and non-judgmental relationship with young people while serving as a strong disruption mechanism in relation to exploitation and risk of harm. 

“We aim to run the sessions outside of term time as a means of keeping some of our most vulnerable young people safe and happy during the periods when schools and colleges are closed.”   

For more information on the latest residential trip, read the associated article in the Newham Recorder. 

Youth safety panels in schools

Newham secondary schools and colleges partner up with police to launch youth safety panels

Youth safety panels, made up of students, school staff and the police, are being rolled out across secondary schools and colleges in Newham. 

This is following a successful pilot at New Vic Sixth Form College this year.

Every secondary school and college in Newham is being offered the chance to host a youth safety panel for their students and police.

Panels will meet termly to give children and young people the opportunity to have an honest and open conversation with the police about their concerns.

They will be inclusive and have representation from all year groups.

Police officer, Sergeant Rob Sewell of Newham’s Safer Schools Team, said: “The panel was trialled successfully at New Vic Sixth Form College and has increased confidence in policing and their teaching staff.”

He said the panels are intended to “model how young people can continue to engage with police in adult life through Safer Neighbourhood Panels”.

Sgt. Sewell added: “The panels will adopt a ’You said, we did’ approach, giving children and young people the opportunity to hold the police and other professionals to account on matters they have raised.”


Last updated: 09/11/2023

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