Community research team partners with alliance to reduce youth violence
BVSC Research based in Birmingham is leading a partnership between the Institute for Community Research and Development (ICRD) at the University of Wolverhampton, the University of Birmingham, USE-IT Community Researchers and Aspire 4 U.
The alliance forms the Community Research and Co-Design Partner for the Youth Endowment Fund’s Neighbourhood Fund.
The aim of the project is to create a locally owned plan to reduce youth violence in a specific locality in Birmingham, working closely with strategic partners in the city, including the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit and the Community Safety Partnership.
Through its Neighbourhood Fund, the Youth Endowment Fund is aiming to understand whether working with local residents to codesign approaches to addressing specific challenges can work. They want to test whether such approaches are feasible and promising and if they can identify the successful components to reduce local levels of youth violence.
Gail Gibbons, Head of Place-Based Impact and Partnerships at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “At the Youth Endowment Fund, our mission is to prevent children from becoming involved in violence. We do it by finding out what works and building a movement to put this knowledge into practice.
“Our Neighbourhood Fund is one way we’ll work towards achieving the change we want to see for children. It means we can find out about what’s happening in very small local areas and find out how we can work closely with local people – who live, work, and study there – to design solutions to violence that take all of that context into account. We’re really pleased that Birmingham is one of the first five places we’ll take this approach. And we’re delighted to be working with BVSC and other local partners who’ll listen to and empower local voices, so that they’re shaping the programmes we fund.”
Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council and the chair of the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership, said: “I welcome the opportunity to work with the Youth Endowment Fund and its partners to work alongside our communities in tackling violence which impacts our children and young people. The Neighbourhood Fund will provide a real opportunity for communities to drive the solutions to tackle the problems they see.”
Clare Gollop, Director of the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Communities across the West Midlands have been clear with us that long term, sustained, and hyper-local investment is essential if we are to tackle the underlying causes of violence and other harm. The Violence Reduction Unit is here to help communities attract longer term projects such as this. We are delighted to be involved and look forward to working closely with the Youth Endowment Fund, BVSC and local partners to help our communities bring about the change that is so needed.”
The project will be delivered across three phases – feasibility, discovery and co-design. The first role is to undertake a feasibility study which draws in all of the available data on youth violence in the city, and the knowledge and expertise of people working in this area to identify the location in which the activity will take place. Once agreed, the alliance group will then use Community Researchers – recruited from that location – to carry out detailed ‘discovery’ research to develop an in-depth understanding of the issue that are prevalent in the locality. At the same time a Community Navigator will be recruited to support the development of a local network that engages a broad cross-section of the community.
In the co-design phase the Community Navigator will provide ongoing support to the local network, including facilitating the development of a Theory of Change and an associated Local Action Plan which will be submitted to the Youth Endowment Fund in July 2022, leading to substantial funding for that location to enact the plan.
Director of BVSC Research, Sophie Wilson, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be leading this work that will test an exciting and innovative approach to reducing youth violence in the city. Working with our academic and strategic partners, we believe that supporting place-based, locally developed and co-produced plans that engage with all sections of the community will make a real, long-term, difference and we are excited to be part of that journey as the Community Research and Co-Design Partners on the project.”
Professor Laura Caulfield, Chair of the Institute for Community Research and Development at the University, said: “This project builds on a successful partnership that originally formed to evaluate the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (WMVRU). We’re excited that this project with the YEF builds on our important work with the WMVRU and extends our ability to support long-term meaningful change in the communities we work with.”
Youth engagement partner, Aspire4U’s Chief Executive, Kit Showande, said: "We are very excited to work with BVSC and other partners as the Community Research and Co-Design Partner for the Youth Endowment Fund’s Neighbourhood Fund. Our role is to create positive engagement activities suiting youth culture, and steering groups with young people from hyper local areas where violence affecting young people is high. This is a great opportunity to listen to local young people and empower them to be part of the solution for safer neighbourhoods.”
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