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Digital skills

The Social Switch Project is launched to tackle youth violence

Close-up of The Social Switch Project flyers spread on a table.

Two of London’s leading charities tackling youth violence have launched a pilot project to combat online harm and the resulting offline violence which can occur.

The Social Switch Project will run until August 2020, and has three strands:

  • Delivering free training to 500 frontline professionals across London who work with young people on recognising online harms
  • Training young Londoners to help them launch digital careers
  • Providing grants to the best grassroots ideas across London which engage young people and steer them away from violence

The project is supported by Google.org and brings together the frontline experience and youth violence expertise of Catch22 and Redthread.

Christina Hicks, Programme Manager for the Social Switch Project, said:

“Where violence was once limited to a physical audience, harmful content is now rapidly shared online, contributing to and escalating tensions. But to have any meaningful impact on levels of youth violence in London we have to tackle the cause; disenfranchised young people operating in a radically changing world, often without positive alternatives.

“Of course we have to address inappropriate content on social media and the violence that escalates as a result.  But we also need to provide young people with creative methods of expression, the ability to be a positive voice online, and the pathways to successful futures.”

The Social Switch Project aims to bring together these elements together and provide a suit of training and grants to tackle youth violence in the round.

The training for frontline professionals is the first strand of the project, and will see social workers, police officers, teachers, outdoor education providers and youth workers undertake training to answer questions such as:

  • How do you address inappropriate content?
  • How can you encourage creativity and healthy personal expression online?

Ben McOwen Wilson, Managing Director, YouTube UK said:

“We all want to ensure that young people are safe, whether they’re out and about in London or exploring the online world. That’s why we’re supporting The Social Switch Project, helping young people use social media positively to have a voice, be creative, build skills and express themselves.

“By working together, we can help everyone make the most of what the internet has to offer.”