Leap Confronting Conflict in partnership with London Youth and Clore Social Leadership will implement an innovative leadership programme for youth practitioners in London, funded by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

Our vision is for a society in which all young people in conflict have routes to positive support that can transform their opportunities. We aim to give young people the skills to understand and manage conflict, reduce violence in their communities and help lead our society. We seek to transform the way conflict is managed, not just by young people, but also by the adults who support them. Working with these adults is essential if we are to have the greatest impact with young people.

We are excited to contribute over 30 years’ experience of working with young people and youth practitioners to this innovative leadership programme for the London Violence Reduction Unit. As one of the core partners, we will provide a range of innovative training for participants, for example increasing participants understanding and self-awareness to conflict, learning how race and ethnicity informs youth practice and developing new skills when in conflict situations. To this partnership we contribute our reputation for excellence in training which will enhance the appeal of this programme, encouraging engagement and retention of participants.

An innovative new Youth Practitioners’ Leadership Programme

From September 2020, this Leadership Programme will actively recruit one hundred frontline practitioners, many of whom will have lived experiences that enables them to connect with young people most at risk.

Participants will be selected from across the London Youth network and London’s wider youth sector, with the bespoke programme designed to recognise the broad skill set needed to deliver and lead youth services for young people at risk of, or affected by, violence.

They will be youth practitioners who show potential for sector leadership and influence in their communities, but who themselves face barriers to progressing into formal leadership roles. For example:

They may have spent their careers supporting young people but haven’t had the opportunity to access formal youth work qualifications.

They may not have been able to undertake professional development training, due to the significant cuts to funding that youth organisations have endured.

They may feel uncomfortable in more traditional leadership programme settings.

Youth practitioners recruited for the programme will undergo 26 days of training across the year, timetabled to work around their commitments. Core modules will include trauma-informed practice, identity and boundaries and behaviour management delivered by Leap and partner organisations will cover modules on change management, mental health first aid, contextual & transitional safeguarding and business planning. Other training sessions in specialist and general practice and personal development will also be available.

Participants will have access to mentoring and coaching with established voluntary youth sector leaders from across the London Youth network and, on completion of the programme, they will also have access to an Innovation Fund to implement change in their community to benefit young people experiencing violence.

Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive for Leap Confronting Conflict said: “Before Covid-19 it was a challenging time for many young people; street violence and school exclusions have been rising in recent years. The pandemic now presents new challenges to the education, freedoms and employment prospects of young people. Supporting young people has never been more important. We want to create a world in which young people are not only safe but are also able to thrive and fulfil their potential. We want young people to have a powerful voice in shaping this new and rapidly changing world. So, I am delighted that Leap Confronting Conflict, London Youth and Clore Social Leadership can come together to share experience and resources that enrich and connect youth practitioners across the capital, enabling best practice in our responses to the needs of young people”.

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit said: “It is now more vital than ever that we invest further in preventing crime, counter the root causes of violence and deliver early intervention that we know helps prevent tragedies. Youth workers on the frontline have the lived experience and relationships to deliver those early interventions that can make all the difference, but they need better professional training to unlock their potential and make the most of their role which will benefit young people. Our investment in the youth worker leadership programme will empower those at the heart of tackling the underlying issues behind violence in our city, particularly in the most affected areas, helping us to deliver long term solutions for young people and reduce violence across London.

I’m pleased that we are also able to build on the success of the custody intervention scheme Divert, with coaches working with young people in custody to deliver teachable moments, turning them away from crime and into employment, training and development opportunities.”

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, Chief Executive of London Youth said: “Members of London Youth’s network of community youth organisations have been determined and innovative in responding on the frontline to Covid-19. These organisations are driven by youth professionals who are deeply invested in and trusted by their communities and the young people they support. Our Leadership Programme will actively seek out and invest in 100 youth workers with the untapped potential to be voluntary sector leaders of the future. In the aftermath of Covid-19, London’s communities will need local leadership more than ever”.

Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive for Clore Social Leadership said: “Now more than ever, leadership is fundamental to how we respond to challenges, whether that’s in organisations, our communities or wider society. Social leadership is not a title or a status but a set of attitudes, skills and behaviours that are deployed to achieve a positive outcome.

Our youth workers deploy their leadership with compassion and passion every day in some of the most challenging contexts, especially when working to reduce violence. Often these youth workers do not recognise what they do on a daily basis as leadership, we want to reach those youth workers. Those with untapped potential who, given the chance to further develop their skills, hone their behaviours and build a community of other dedicated youth workers, will continue to create the safe spaces that young people need to thrive.

Combining the expertise of the partners in youth work, conflict and leadership development we believe this bespoke programme will offer those who participate in the programme will receive a learning experience that has the rigour of other youth work qualifications but the added benefit of peer learning and real-world application that will continue as a legacy for the youth sector beyond on the length of the formal programme”.

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