A study of the lives and experiences of 60 vulnerable adolescents, published today by Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB), will drive change and help to shape every aspect of care for children, young people and families, the council has pledged.
The review, published here, was commissioned by the board and children’s social care through a desire to gain a deeper understanding of these young people’s lives, following the deaths of three young people in 2017. The scope was widened to include an additional 57 vulnerable young people identified as being of concern.
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children young people and learning, welcomed the groundbreaking research as a powerful reminder of the reality faced by some children and young people.
The review highlights how agencies tried to respond to challenges, and the pivotal importance of early support for children and families in need, delivering support to them when and where they need it, including in schools. The findings have been supported by agencies and communities across the borough.
Council leaders and partner agencies have pledged that the learning will strengthen and inform Croydon’s new preventative approach which will be delivered through a new locality-based early help service, offering wraparound services for children and families experiencing challenges when and where they need it.
The new early help service was introduced this month, and will be delivered through the council’s new locality hubs, offering services tailored to the needs of the community and focused on building resilience in families.
Following a successful pilot, the council is also offering targeted support for vulnerable children and young people aged 9-14, through its Safe and Well project, in primary and secondary schools across the borough.
This focus on early intervention is key as the council develops one of the capital’s first Violence Reduction Networks, with a strong focus uniting agencies to prevent crime by tackling the root cases.
Announced last month, the network, which has been hailed as ‘exemplary practice’ by London’s Deputy Mayor for policing of crime, will build on the recent progress Croydon has made to promote young people’s safety, which has seen a 12% reduction in knife crime.
The council, police and community groups have attributed this reduction to their strong partnership, which has resulted in increased support for young people across the borough.
This ranges from mentoring programmes for those at risk to the creation of new opportunities for all, helping young people to make positive life choices, through the Choose Your Future campaign.
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, said: “The CSCB and the council commissioned this review to build a picture of the lives of these young people and identify the factors that make them particularly vulnerable to harm.
“The findings are a powerful reminder of the reality these children are living – from a very young age, many of them feel unsafe and isolated, and all of them are desperately in need of support and stability. Five of these young people have tragically lost their lives.
“The review has laid the foundations but it must be about how we learn from this review and what comes next. We must come together as a community support the remaining 55 young people, and to ensure that we do all we can to tackle the issues that have been pivotal in these young people’s lives, from housing need to mental health, so that we keep all our young people safe.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities said: “This is a hugely important piece of work – not just for Croydon because of the invaluable insight it offers us into the experiences and perspectives of some of our most vulnerable young people – but also because of what it offers the nation at large – given the challenges we face here are not particular to Croydon.
“We are pursuing a public health approach to tackling violence in Croydon – including serious youth violence – and a key part of a public health approach is a clear understanding of the nature of the problem. This review will be vital to developing our approach to reducing violence – making sure we’re stepping in earlier and stopping violence from happening in the first place.
“I commend the board on the leadership they demonstrate through this excellent piece of work – both here in Croydon – and further afield.”