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Additional £800,000 to fund youth intervention “teachable moment” programmes in Oxfordshire

The Government has confirmed that a bid for an additional £800,000 to fund youth intervention programmes in Oxfordshire has been secured by the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit.

The award was announced last week following the publication of the Government’s “Beating Crime” plan, with £17m allocated to schemes nationally, drawn from the Serious Violence Fund which supports initiatives to tackle knife crime and youth violence.

The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit had applied to the “Teachable Moments” grant scheme, which funds intervention initiatives built around the concept of teachable moments; particular points when a young person is more receptive to support to help them to change their behaviours and steer clear of crime.  It will be used to create new “Navigator” roles, working across hospitals, police custody and in the wider community, providing support and sign-posting for young people at risk of being involved in violence. 

The VRU will now work with the Safer Oxfordshire Partnership, which coordinates community safety activity across the county of Oxfordshire, to develop more detailed proposals as to how the funding will be used, including inviting local voluntary sector organisations to apply to deliver initiatives, via a VRU-led tendering process.

Teachable moment initiatives use a particular moment such as an admission to hospital, an arrest or being taken into police custody.  These moments create a position where a person may be more reflective, considering what has led them to be admitted and can be more open to discussing how they could change their lives to be safer and more positive.

An example of such a scheme already in place is the VRU-funded Hospital Navigator programme, which launched recently at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and with a further four sites across the region launching in coming months. Hospital Navigators are trained volunteers, working within the Emergency Departments. When a young person is admitted in circumstances linked to risky behaviours, such as violence, drink, drugs or self-harm and mental health problems, their clinician can refer them to speak with a Navigator if they wish, who offers a listening ear and can help discuss the circumstances which led to their admission, offer support such as access to mentoring or signposts them to local services and help with employment and education. 

Matthew Barber, Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “This latest Government funding is aligned with my own priority to tackle serious violence and knife crime here in the Thames Valley.  It will enable our partners in Oxfordshire to develop further innovative approaches, offering earlier intervention and support.  While alongside, we continue to deliver a firm policing response to those who continue to carry weapons or engage in violence. 

“We hope to use Oxfordshire to develop some early best-practice which we can then look to roll-out elsewhere across the force. Importantly, we will seek to fund those voluntary sector bodies working in our local area to deliver these new services, further building their own capacity for now and the future.”

Superintendent Stan Gilmour, Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The concept of a “teachable moment” is that it can happen when someone’s circumstances in life suddenly change – this could be an admission to hospital, an arrest or detention in police custody.  This can create a moment of reflection, a time when they may be considering their actions and a point when they are briefly removed from negative influences around them.  By offering earlier interventions at these points, we can create powerful ways to help a young person to engage with support, to consider the risks and to change their course.  Through this, we can prevent more young people becoming drawn into crime and violence, and keep our communities safe.”