A Discussion Paper


The purpose of this paper is to stimulate debate about the kind of youth work and provision that should be developed in the KOV area. We raise a number of issues that we think need to be thought through without panicing in reaction to recent events. While we make suggestions, recommendations for action must come from wide spread debate and from the involvement of young people themselves.
Tim Saunders, Alford House
Sean Creighton, Riverside Community Development Trust (RCDT)
This paper has been prepared in discussion with members of the RCDT Board
28 June 2006


The murder of 15 year old Alex Mulumba on Black Prince Rd in early June as the culmination of large scale mob activity by young people in the area has shocked the local community. Discussions have been underway among different statutory and community and voluntary organisations, and with residents of Ethelred and Kennington Park Estates, about what lies behind the events leading up to the murder and what needs to be done.
Many of the young people involved in the events came from families which went to local churches and had taken part in organised youth activities.
It has been a tragedy for the parents of the murdered boy and for the parents of those alleged to have knifed him. It will have been traumatic for those who got involved in the heat of the moment and now regret it and will have to come to terms with their role in the affair. Many of the involved young people will now have a heightened sense of fear as will their parents, who will wonder whether they have failed to bring up their children properly. There will be heightened fear in the wider community when they see large groups of young people together. They will all need support as they seek to come to terms with what has happened.

The ‘Happy Slapping’ Case

The end of the ‘Happy Slapping’ trial in January focussed attention on the fact that the four young people involved lived in or had connections with the area. These young people were known to a number of local people and organisations.
The assault on 8 people and the killing of one of them was a shocking event. Such behaviour is not typical of young people, although there are sections of young people all over the country who get involved in horrific attacks and beatings following binge-dinking episodes in town centres.
At the time of the incidents (October 2004) the perpetrators were between 14 and 19. The press have concentrated on the difficult upbringings they had. They ‘graduated from playing truant to running together on the streets of south London wearing hoods to cover their faces’ (Guardian, 24 January)
· Chelsea O’Mahoney’s parents had been heroin addicts and she had seen her mother inject. She had been left the wander the streets unsupervised. She went into care and then was fostered. (Guardian) The Sunday Times (20 January) gave a detailed portrait of her ‘feral life in a moral vacuum.’
· David Blenman had had several convictions for street crime.
· Darren Case suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and ‘a ”wretched” upbringing with no parental support’. (Guardian)
· Reece Sargeant suffered from learning difficulties and a speech impediment. (Guardian)
There is no point trying to work out the degree to which the path they followed was influenced by poor parenting or poor service support, given the fact that as individuals they were responsible for the decisions they took, including not taking advantage of, or abusing, what was on offer.
However we cannot hide from the fact that as a community, residents, voluntary organisations and statutory services failed them and the man who was killed. Better tracking is now in place for such young people but whether this would have worked is open to question. The new Every Child Matters process may make a difference but that is yet to be fully established.
The end of the trial and their imprisonment does not close the book on these four young people.
· What support do the families want and need to cope with their children being in prison and any social shunning by sections of the local community?
· What will be the effect of imprisonment be on these young people?
· Will it harden them, or will they take the work and education opportunities that may be available in prison?
· How can they be reintegrated back into the locality when they are released?
While these four young people were not typical of the great majority of young people, the trial does raise questions about society’s attitudes and provision for young people, especially those who experience difficulties.

Youth Violence

Moral panics over episodes of youth violence have a long history. There were the seaside battles between mods and rockers. In the second half of the 1980s it was group fights between Vietnamese refugee teenagers and others in the Stockwell area. Occasionally its attacks by pupils from one school against pupils from another. Among older groups of young people there has been a country wide drink fuelled violence at weekends in town centres. Without trying to minimise the seriousness of what happens, these episodes flare up and die down.

What Can We Learn from Past Events in Lambeth?

It is legitimate to ask whether anything is ever learnt from previous ‘youth crime’ panics. There was a surge in knife carrying and incidents in the second half of the 1980s across London, including Lambeth, culminating in the fatal stabbing of a solicitor. In consultation with the Community/Police Consultative Group for Lambeth the Kennington Police developed a pilot project on combating the growing culture of carrying knives through ‘street wise’ education activities, and persuading the script writers on East Enders to include the issue as a story line. This led to a Metropolitan Police knives amnesty. With other campaigners there was tightening of the law on carrying offensive weapons. But the educational preventative work was dropped.
In 1989 and 1990 Elizabeth Burney, a social policy researcher and former Chair of Lady Margaret Hall Settlement, conducted some research into street crime and its perpetrators for the Community/Police Consultative Group for Lambeth. In a paper ‘Safer Streets in Lambeth – A Youth Crime Approach’ at the Community Safety. Local Perspectives Conference run by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and Local Government Drugs Forum in March 1993 (Sean Creighton (ed). Community Safety. Local Perspectives. AMA/LGDF 1993) Burney reported on her main findings and the initiative that followed.
· ‘Acts of delinquency may have common roots, but take a multitude of forms. Some of these forms are patently more damaging and more dangerous than others, both in their effects of society and on the life of the young person concerned.’
· Although nearly all known street robbery offenders were black this had ’to be viewed centrally as an issue of delinquency, and therefore to be understood in much the same way as other forms of delinquency such as driving stolen cars’, which is more a white teenage crime.
· ‘Style, involving expensive dressing, and looking good, turned out to be the key. A smart machismo, which in the classic sub-cultural scenarios appeared to be a substitute for success and acceptance elsewhere, and may help to explain the particular attraction of this form of delinquency for some black youngsters.’
· Street style is also ‘a substitute for the offenders lack of any real self-confidence. I was told that they see themselves as failures not only at school but within relationships with their parents. They are not robbing from poverty, but from emotional deprivation.’
She found a strong link between street robbery and truanting from school.
· The average age of streets robbers school leaving age was around 15, that is: ‘They stopped attending school at all before the statutory school leaving age.’
· ‘The line between truancy and crime is not straight forward as others have pointed out, and almost always other factors are involved.’
The research also highlighted the importance of family tensions and the interaction between that and absenteeism from school.
· ‘The syndrome describing the dual failure of school and at home may lead to literally years of absenteeism, where the young person simply drops out of sight of any helping agency.’
Following her research the Brixton Against Robbery project was set up which attempted ‘to link the preventative work of the Juvenile Liaison Team with a voluntary style initiative of one to one working with at risk youngsters, and their families. It ultimately failed due to inadequate management structure but in the course of about two years some extremely effective work was done.’
It involved:
· a ‘ reformed black ex-con’ street robber acting as’ a minder to some very difficult youngsters who did indeed return to education and kept out of trouble’.
· another worker who ran a parents support group which was taken up enthusiastically by several families, especially lone mothers.’
‘It was the first time that many of them could share their anxieties about their seemingly uncontrollable children, and be helped to come to a better working relationship with them, These were no uncaring irresponsible parents, quite the reverse.’
Given that local authorities had a duty under the Children Act to take reasonable steps to encourage children in their area not to commit crime, Burney suggested that the kind of policies and provisions that should be developed by the local authority should include:
· ‘Schools need to encourage failures to become successes, to adopt firm policies towards bullying, and to look for extra support not rejection of disruptive pupils.’
· ‘Specialist services like Child Guidance and Education Psychology should be readily accessible.’
· ‘Beleaguered families are supposed to be able to turn’ to Social Services Departments, ‘ but the fear of a troublesome child being taken into care often prevents this happening.
· ‘Voluntary agencies are almost always the best source of whole family support and local provision should be viewed as a whole with both public and private agencies playing their appropriate role.’
· ‘Perhaps above all the escape, excitement, achievement and self-esteem which too many youngsters seek through crime, street robbery, burglary or drugs needs to be available in other ways.’
· ‘The Youth Service has an important role but often it will be unorthodox detached ways of working which will reach the most needy.’
· Local government ‘can and should be open minded and supportive to all types of solution to a common problem.’

Current Government Policy

There has been a fairly long wait but the Government finally published its Green Paper - Youth Matters, in July 2005. A substantial document covering services for young people, we can only briefly share some of its background, vision and principles.
Youth Matters says Children’s Trusts, which is the arrangement Government wants all Local Authorities to have in place to integrate all key services for children and young people, including education services, health services and social services, are to be responsible for developing an integrated youth support service. Children’s Trusts are to provide services ranging from universally available activities to specialist and targeted support. This will be achieved through each Trust planning and commissioning services from a number of public, voluntary and private providers.
Youth Matters aims to build on the ambition of Every Child Matters, a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. It promotes the idea that all children and young people should achieve five key outcomes:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic well-being

Youth Matters “aims to radically re-shape services for young people”, states the Department for Education and Skills website. To this end Youth Matters identifies four key challenges:
· engaging more young people in positive activities and empowering them to shape the services they receive;
· encouraging more young people to volunteer and become involved in their communities;
· provide better information, advice and guidance to young people to help them make informed choices about their lives; and
· providing better and more personalised intensive support for each young person who has serious problems or gets into trouble.
This approach is underpinned by the following key Government principles:
· making services more responsive to what young people and their parents want
· balancing greater opportunities and support with promoting young people’s responsibilities
· making services for young people more integrated, efficient and effective
· improving outcomes for all young people, while narrowing the gap between those who do well and those who do not
· involving a wide range of organisations from the voluntary, community, and private sectors to increase choice and secure the best outcomes; and building on the best current provision.
Youth Matters can be welcomed but will need to be backed with investment if it is to be made a reality. There is still much to be done and discussed and as is often the case with Government proposals the detail remains to be worked out locally. Locally, Lambeth has established the Children and Young Peoples Services Department. Many challenges for the Council lie ahead.

Youth Provision in Lambeth

Over a number of years ILEA supported the youth service and nurtured a voluntary/ statutory partnership to youth work in Lambeth. Since control passed to borough councils in 1990 the youth service has been decimated in Lambeth. Voluntary sector youth work organisations are struggling with lack of secure funding and inadequate buildings. When the Lambeth Youth Council peer inspection review of youth club/centres in North Lambeth highlighted a number of things that needed to be done to support improvements among providers in the area, the Area Committee allocated £20,000 money. While welcome, this was by no means an adequate sum. Redecorating one large hall can cost £12,000. This demonstrates that the sums being invested are inadequate. It also shows that young people’s views are not backed financially to a suitable level.
There have been a number of announcements about funding to refurbish and build youth clubs/centres. There is a new £20 million capital fund this year. Spread across the country, this again is nowhere near enough. The Chancellor has pledged to use money obtained from unclaimed bank accounts to invest in youth and community facilities. It is as yet unclear exactly how much this will be, but it is likely to be in the “hundreds of millions” and could be more. But how long will this take?

The Purpose of Youth Work

The long established purpose of youth work has been distorted in recent years by an over focus on the problems of juvenile crime, and the crime prevention and community safety agendas.
Although described in a number of ways there is broad agreement that Youth Work is about building self-esteem and confidence, developing relationships and skills, and life-long learning. It seeks to help young people cope more effectively with the transition through adolescence to adulthood and to understand and act on the personal, social and political issues which affect their lives, the lives of others and the communities of which they form a part. It is about the provision of activities and opportunities which will:
increase the ability of young people to identify, advocate and pursue their rights and responsibilities as individual citizens and group members
assist young people to develop their capacities - physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social and emotional
enable young people to understand values in society and develop the skills to focus and measure their own attitudes, judgements and values
enable young people better to understand their physical world, particularly in the context of their health and environment.
Youth work providers should be trying to reach these goals through the following objectives:
by involving young people in designing and implementing appropriate planned educational programmes
by developing youth work provision with young people in a variety of outreach and community settings
by ensuring that young people have access to appropriately placed information, advice and counselling services on matters which concern them, and have the skills to use them effectively
by providing places and relationships within which young people can feel secure and valued and learn to take proper control over their own lives.

Activity can be divided under three headings:

Personal and Social Education (including Health Education). Education in Personal and Social skills will assist young people to understand better the process involved in physical, mental and spiritual growth.
Education for citizenship. The aims of education for citizenship are to:
- establish the importance of positive, participative citizenship and provide the motivation to join in,
- help young people to acquire and understand essential information on which to base the development of their skills, values and attitudes towards citizenship.
Economic and Industrial Understanding. Education for economic and industrial understanding aims to help young people make decisions about how to organise their finances and spent their money
Youth provision through traditional approaches such as youth clubs is successful in being able to have a good relationship and trust with young people who use the service. Alongside club and centre based youth work there is also detached youth work seeking to reach those young people on the streets who do not come to clubs and centres. It can be the bridge between young people and service providers. It enables young people to gain information about services within their area without being in a formal setting, and within an area that they are used to.
However, due to the basis of this method being solely based in young people’s “turf” it can be a daunting experience. Therefore where possible, it is good practice for someone within the community that is known to young people to be part of the outreach/detached team, in order to build on links and for young people not to be too hostile. Where this is not possible, it is essential to note that the development of any relationship and trust may take longer especially of there has not been a youth provision in the area before.
Youth diversion from crime is just one beneficial outcome in relation to some young people.

Community and Neighbourhood Renewal

The Community Strategy has objectives to:
· Deliver integrated services to young people through the creation of a Children and Young Peoples Strategy Partnership
· Place the view of children and young people at the heart of decision making
· Increase the number of pupils staying in education or moving into employment or training at age 16
· Create more opportunities for young people in out of school activities relating to education, leisure, sport, recreation and culture
What has the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership achieved in the way of improving the delivery of integrated services and how will this be furthered through the Area Partnership that has been set up?
· What role do public service agencies and community and voluntary groups in the area have in helping engage and involve young people?
· How can youth issues be addressed through the work on the community strategy and neighbourhood renewal through the newly formed Area Community Strategy Development Partnership?
Youth crime is a factor in the complex interaction of problems in ‘deprived’ neighbourhoods, including the physical look and feel due to vandalism and graffiti, and fear of personal attack. Disaffected young people’s behaviour causes conflict with older people, and other young people are often targets for attack and robbery. These fears and the negative reactions to groups of young people on the streets in turn feeds disaffection and conflict. This influences the way in which the police treat young people, especially from BME communities. Lack of jobs and future prospects feed low attainment. Because of their fear of what might happen, lots of parents will not let their teenagers out in the evening, and do not support them taking part in organised youth activities.

Educational Attainment

The National Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy has a goal of raising educational achievement in deprived neighbourhoods. In a local authority area like Lambeth this is difficult to assess whether this is being achieved once pupils have transferred to secondary school. Secondary schools have not for many years had neighbourhood catchment areas. Pupils living in deprived neighbourhoods travel across the Borough to school, and many to schools outside the Borough. Additionally some secondary schools have pupils coming in from other local authority areas. It is therefore not possible to utilise the overall GCSE examination pass rates as an indicator of raising achievement among pupils from deprived neighbourhoods. Two assessment approaches are needed:
· analysis by geographic area within the Borough to statistically identify the pupils from the deprived neighbourhoods and assess their attainment against the average for the school.
· analysis by geographic area within the Borough of pupils from Lambeth going to out of Borough schools, and assessment of their attainment against the average for Lambeth  and if they live in deprived areas against their peers in those areas going to Lambeth schools
If the analysis shows that the attainment level being achieved by pupils living in deprived areas is lower than the average for their school or for Lambeth as a whole, then there will need to be discussion:
· with their school about what additional measures may need to be taken in the school
· about other additional measures that could be undertaken possibly based in the neighbourhoods in which they live.
Influencing change in schools will of course be much more difficult in out of Borough schools than Borough schools.
Once their children start going to secondary school, parents have few opportunities to develop the social networks that are built at primary school. At secondary school level they do not know who their children are associating with; they do not know the parents of their children's friends to talk to them. None of those informal social watchfulness and 'controls' that operate at primary level usually operate at secondary level.

The Issue of ‘Respect’

Another issue is that of ‘respect’. The Lambeth Respect equalities consultation in January 2003 involved 120 local people from all ages, backgrounds, nationalities, faiths and abilities working together to decide what ‘respect’ meant, and what action could be taken to treat everyone respectfully. The main conclusions are set out in Appendix 1. The young people taking part indicated that their peers felt excluded. They suggested the following ways in which that the feeling of inclusion could be increased:
· youth centres and activities in schools and community venues – these should be inclusive and accessible for all young people, especially those with disabilities and others who find it hard to get involved. Youth should be able to take more responsibility for their clubs and centres.
· Opportunities for discussion – a chance for young people to talk about what’s important to them and to educate each other around issues like teenage pregnancy.
· Young people should be taught from an early age to respect people, property and the community – adults should lead by example.
· Affordable housing – for everyone, but particularly young single people and couples.
The consultation concluded:
· that young people starting out in the world of work need support such as: modern apprenticeships, business advice, financial guidance and grants, good vocational education, scholarships for further and higher education.

Youth Provision Needs

Good quality youth provision depends on:
· Outreach workers to identify and engage with young people on the street, particularly those engaged in vandalism, graffiti and street crime, under-age drinking, drug and solvent abuse.
· Stable funding for existing provision
· New funding for new projects
· Youth surveys in every area to find out what young people want
· Funding and other support for ways to foster youth participation.
· Review of youth work training and remuneration.
· Review of how to devise a system which encourages part-time seasonal workers to stay with the organization providing the sessions
· Major expansion of holiday provision, with Schools make their buildings available for use by community and other organisations running schemes.
.Issues to be considered
As indicated above there are a wide range of issues to be considered, along with the interaction between them. (See also  the list of issues to be considered and the analysis which is needed attached as Appendix 2.)

Involving Young People in Decision-making

Children and young people’s view have never been valued in Britain despite the Government being a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 says that children and young people have a right to say what they think about matters that affect them and a right to have those views taken seriously.
The disaffection of so many young people from school and their anti-social behaviour suggests that a wide range of institutions involved in running children’s’ activities and youth groups for the under 18s are not very good at listening to their users, nor proactively engaging with non-users to ascertain their views and involve them in decision-making on changing current and developing new provision.
The following are principles behind the process of involvement:
· Treat young people honestly. e.g. develop their understanding of any practical, legal and political boundaries to their involvement
· Use methods of participation appropriate to young people’s age and maturity
· Take their views seriously and act upon them
· Develop staff skills and attitudes to engage effectively with young people: e.g.
· Involvement should be based on equal opportunities and be non-discriminatory
· Be proactive towards those facing the greater barriers to getting involved
· Provide support and opportunities for training and development to help young people contribute effectively. e.g. in listening, presenting views constructively, researching information, briefing on background d issues, contacting experts
· Provide relevant information in good time
· Use appropriate format - jargon fee, culturally appropriate and accessible
· Have methods which recognise young people’s contribution
The following are policies needed to support the process:
· Objectives for involvement
· Criteria on rationale and success against which to measure progress
· Young people involvement in reviewing lessons learnt
· Standards and codes of conduct for working with young people
· Handling of confidentiality issues.
· Handling of child protection issues
Methods can include:
· Ad hoc suggestion and positive and critical feedback schemes
· Formal surveys and questionnaires
· Consultation exercises, inc. Small discussion groups, use o drama and music, games and activities
· Advisory and decision-making bodies
· Membership of adult-led advisory or decision-making bodies
· Projects in which young people produce information for other young people inc. IT
· Involvement in assessing plans for implementing services and new initiatives
· Involvement of parents and carers in supporting involvement depending on age and characteristics.
· Many methods of community participation are appropriate, inc. Planning for Real, Imagine
Obtaining the views of young people was a central feature of the Government’s consultation ‘Building a Strategy for Children and Young People’, which ended on 1 March 2002.
The consultation aimed to develop:
· a new vision and principles for the development of services for children and young people - on which all future Government investment will be based
· ways in which Government can work with organisations to develop and assess services according to the real life outcomes for children and young people
· simple planning arrangements for services for children and young people which aim to put local communities in the driving seat in designing and delivering services.
Key questions as part of the consultation were:
· What issues are most important to young people?
· What one thing would you change for young people?
· What should a strategy for young people include?
· Why are services not always able to help young person
· Has a service not helped you as much as you think it should have?
· How would you improve services?
· What do you think would make services work better?
· Is it right to measure whether services are working by what was actually changed for young people?
· How should change be monitored?
The National Agency has developed a good framework for young people’s participation ‘Here By Right’ that can be used in such work.

Local Community Review

There is a growing recognition across a number of policy and activity areas of the need for improved information sharing, joint working and mutual co-operation, and the need for a common strategy and agenda to use in discussions with Lambeth Council and other public service agencies. It would be appropriate for community and voluntary sector organisations, including residents’ organisations, to consider developing a community initiated strategy on youth work and provision for the area.
We think that the local community through its community and voluntary organisations should carry out its own examination of the youth service issues in the area in order to set a common agenda for discussion with the Council and other statutory providers, to put to the Area Delivery Partnership, and to find ways in which existing community and voluntary sector provision can be better supported and enlarged upon. An important element of this should be the involvement of young people themselves in discussing the issues and suggesting solutions. One approach might be to set up a Citizens’ Jury inquiry examining the issues and calling various people and organisations to answer questions. The Jury members should include young people.

Tim Saunders, Alford House
Sean Creighton, Riverside Community Development Trust (RCDT) (and former Secretary to Community/Police Consultative Group for Lambeth 1984-89)
28 June 2006

Appendix 1

The Lambeth Respect equalities consultation in January 2003.
Participants  defined ‘respect’ as:
· valuing differences – different cultures, backgrounds, skills, faiths, abilities and disabilities
· acknowledging and recognising people’s life experiences and the choices they make
· sharing common bonds and working together on issues that concern us all
· being accountable – politicians should be accountable for their decisions. The council and other organisations that provide services should respond quickly and politely when people need help.
Respect involves:
· treating other people as we wish to be treated
· leading by example
· being open and welcoming
· embracing other cultures
· giving thanks and positive feedback when these are due
The consultation concluded:
· That being in work makes people feel included and increases their self-esteem
· that people should be able to find work, regardless of their race or disability

Appendix 2

Issues and Analysis for the Review
(A preliminary list)
· Analysis of children and young people’s population and projected age group population changes by as small as geographic area within each ward as possible.
· Correlation of the population and location of facilities suggests:
 Area Age 5-14 % Age 15-24 % Provision %
· There needs to be a discussion on the analysis of need, and what the average ratio of provision to youth population should be.
· Analysis of Juvenile Crime and Victimhood
· Youth Unemployment
· Service provision, including threats to sustainability and ambitions for future activity
· Assessment of progress made on implementing the recommendations of the Lambeth Youth Council peer review
· Assessment of good practice and examples of good youth work being carried out in the area and ideas that may be adapted from other areas.
· Consultation with young people using services
· Consultation with other young people not using services
· Analysis of the informal networks of young people based on where they went to primary school and where they now go to secondary school
· Factors contributing to delinquency and crime