Greater London Authority

07/27/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/27/2023 04:06

Mayor announces new Violence Reduction Unit investment in summer programme to tackle violence with opportunities for young people

Mayor announces new Violence Reduction Unit investment in summer programme to tackle violence with opportunities for young people

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27 July 2023

Mayor announces new Violence Reduction Unit investment in summer programme to tackle violence with opportunities for young people

  • Mayor's VRU investing an additional £7.4m in activities for children and young people this summer and beyond
  • Programme includes funding for sports and physical activity, investment in grassroots community organisations, paid roles for young Londoners and a project to keep young people safe online
  • Funding directed to areas affected by violence which often increases during the summer

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that his Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is investing new funding of £7.4m in a series of activities beginning this summer to provide positive opportunities for young people and tackle violence in the capital.

London's VRU is funding a wide range of activities for children and young people during the summer holidays and beyond to keep them safe and supported with positive and constructive things to do.

The Mayor has voiced concerns about the soaring cost-of-living pushing more people into poverty and deprivation this summer, and has written to the Prime Minister to provide emergency funding to go alongside his efforts in providing access to activities and opportunities for young people.

The Mayor's VRU, the first in the country, is investing in programmes that are delivering in areas most affected by violence and at a time of the year when evidence shows violence can increase.

New funding starting this summer features:

  • £2m VRU funding in sport and physical activity delivering activities during the summer and throughout all school holidays for the next two years. With the support of the Mayor's sports team and London Youth, activities are focused on not only competitive sport but physical and mental wellbeing, safety and educational and employment outcomes in areas typically underserved by sports provision. Funding is also providing support for young people as they transition from primary to secondary school, and to provide food and help with travel costs to make it easier for young people to take part.
  • £1.5m funding, starting this summer, to support up to 54 grassroots community organisations to deliver prevention and diversionary projects to tackle violence. The VRU's two-year Innovation Fund, which launches on Monday, will provide pots of money up to £50k to support innovative community-led ideas that can be piloted and potentially scaled up. The VRU wants to support those who are closest to the issues with the resources they need to test and find new solutions to issues in their neighbourhoods.*
  • £3.9m investment in tackling online harms. A new report from Barnardo's found that seven in 10 children surveyed will spend more time online during the holidays, while one in 10 said they will meet up with people they have met online but don't know in person. The children's charity has warned that this, together with the impact of the rising costs affecting families' access to activities, means the risk of exploitation will increase.
  • The VRU's new Social Switch programme, led by Catch22 and Redthread, will support more than 1,000 children and young people to stay safe online from this summer and over the next three years. It will support young people aged 16-30 who may be at risk of violence or exploitation, providing them with skills to stay safe and mentors to develop careers in the digital sector. The programme will also train more than 2,000 London-based practitioners to better support young people navigate being online.

Alongside this, through the London Crime Prevention Fund, the VRU continues to fund local authorities to deliver prevention programmes to support young people during the school holidays, while its award-winning community-led MyEnds programme operating in eight neighbourhoods across London is providing mentoring, sports activities and residential opportunities, as well as working with those identified as needing support as they prepare to start secondary school in September. On Monday, the VRU brought together nearly 90 grassroots organisations, local authorities and young people to promote and raise awareness of the wide range of activities being delivered locally and across London for young people.

City Hall also supports Local Village Network - a grassroots organisation that provides an app signposting to 2,500 free services, activities and opportunities, and mentoring services for 14-24-year-olds.

The Mayor joined VRU Director Lib Peck today in Tottenham to see how the WeMove Dance project is delivering sport and physical activities for young people during the holidays, and the positive impact it is having on young people.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

"I'm committed to tackling violence and building a safe city for all Londoners by being tough on violence and tough on its complex causes.

"We have made progress with homicides, knife and gun crime having fallen since 2016, but the spiralling cost-of-living threatens to exacerbate the drivers of violence with more families affected by poverty and deprivation.

"I set up and fund London's VRU to lead an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention because I'm determined to keep young people safe and ensure they have access to activities and opportunities to thrive this summer."

Lib Peck, Director of London's Violence Reduction Unit, said:

"We firmly believe that violence is preventable, not inevitable and a key part of our approach is putting children and young people first.

"The VRU listens to and works with young people and families and we know how profound the cost-of-living is on them and how it impacts access to positive opportunities.

"We have seen the positive impact of the Mayor's investment in prevention through the VRU and that's now working to deliver support online, sport and physical activity, and diversionary activities led by communities throughout the important summer holiday period."

Camilla Stanger, CEO of WeMove Dance said:

"The summer holidays are an important time for fun, community-building and joy for young people and their families.

"Our youth leadership team from London Academy of Excellence Tottenham are excited to launch their summer activities at Living Under One Sun, a welcoming community hub and garden in the heart of Tottenham."

Naomi Hulston, Catch22's Chief Executive Officer, said:

"We are thrilled to be working with London's Violence Reduction Unit to expand the hugely successful and important Social Switch programme. While the online world presents a wealth of opportunities for young people, we know all too well that it also presents very real dangers. It's vital that young people feel safe and are protected from online harms - and the Social Switch project will play a major role in making that a reality."

Zoe Mellis, Director of Programmes at London Youth, said:

"Our Getting Active sports programme is hugely successful in engaging young Londoners in positive, healthy activities. The additional funding from the VRU not only means we can continue and increase these opportunities, supporting 1600 young people during the summer holidays, but also provide much needed cost-of-living support to young people and community-based youth organisations, at a time when they need it most."

Notes to editors

To find out what sport and physical activity opportunities are taking place in your community during the summer holidays and beyond, contact [email protected]

Applications open for the Innovation Fund on Monday. More information about the Fund will be here:

To learn more about tackling online harms and support for young people using the internet, visit the Social Switch website at

There are more than 2,500 free opportunities, activities and mentoring places through the Local Village Network app:

Crimes which have fallen over the Mayoralty (12-month period to May 2016 as compared to 12-month period to June 2023)

  • Knife crime with injury down 2%.
  • Knife crime with injury under 25 down 19%.
  • Gun crime down 14%.  
  • Homicide down 3%.
  • Burglary down 21%.  

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