Pilot programme trains professionals to target potential gang members
The Young Foundation was commissioned by Harrow Metropolitan Police to develop and pilot an emotional resilience programme, targeting 14 -19 year olds who are offending or at risk of offending.
New thinking, backed by research, particularly in America , points to the importance that ‘resilience’ plays in equipping disadvantaged young people to cope with and succeed at school and in later life. While schools prioritise the acquisition and development of core academic skills this has, too often, squeezed out another set of important skills – how to think creatively, how to collaborate, how to empathise. The value of social and emotional learning and motivation, including its constituent parts, resilience and persistence or grit is beginning to be recognised. The OECD has found, for example, that disadvantaged children can succeed at school and later on if they have developed resilience, overcoming the odds. Positive psychology and a focus on supporting the development of character in schools are informing much education thinking on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Young Foundation has been involved in a UK Resiliency Project in 24 secondary schools across three local authorities – Manchester, Hertfordshire, South Tyneside – developing a programme specifically for working with ‘gangs’. This was delivered by a range of professionals working with young people and the Foundation has developed new materials with Dr Ilona Boniwell, one of Europe’s leading positive psychologists.
The Young Foundation team carried out a scoping exercise with a range of key agencies including local voluntary organisations, majority group and opposition councillors in Harrow, Harrow’s Young People’s services, the Anti-social Behaviour Unit, Safer Neighbourhoods Team and the Wealdstone Anti-social Behaviour Partnership.
Stakeholders were interviewed to understand the local context, past experiences of similar initiatives, perceptions of what success would look like, and risk factors associated with the project. The Foundation also explored perceptions of ‘gang culture’ in the target area, and built an understanding of the range of provision and facilities for young people in the area.
Multi-disciplinary teams of frontline professionals who are based in Harrow and who regularly come into contact with these young people have been trained to deliver the course materials.
The Foundation will be publishing an evaluation of the Harrow work soon and will seek to test this approach in other areas.
Watch the accompanying video outlining the activities the young people participated in.