Since its inception in 2011, the Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Service has grown from providing only youth support work and school interventions, into a multi-service group. The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Service is now comprised of a Prison Resettlement service and a Community Service. This evaluation focuses solely on the Community Service as this comprises the original youth support and school intervention work covered in the first two reports (see Appendices A and B).
The Wolverhampton Violence ReductionCommunity Service’s purpose remains the provision of early intervention and prevention to young people who are at risk of harm from gang activities. It also supports at-risk-of and fully-gang-entrenched young people to identify viable alternatives to the gang lifestyle, violent activities, and antisocial behaviour.
The evaluation research question sought to determine whether the Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service activities address a local need, and whether its services can be evidenced through outcomes and impact. When taken together, the overall findings of this evaluation indicate that not only is the Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service needed and valued within Wolverhampton, but they also offer a unique skillset that has helped the local schools to combat violence and address antisocial behaviour. The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service has positively influenced individual young people and their families to prevent or desist activities that could have wider implications within the city and surrounding areas.
The following key findings are of note:
- The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service has seen exponential expansion and improvements to their services and operations over the last two years.
- The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service is highly respected for their expertise and ability to reach young people that no other statutory or professional service can.
- The support workers are passionate about the service and frequently go above and beyond to assist the people they support.
- The local schools rely heavily on the Youth Support Workers presence and delivery of interventions to assist them with preventing and reducing violence, other undesirable behaviours, and eventual exclusions.
- Wolverhampton continues to see increases in bladed weapons offenses despite the efforts of local law enforcement initiatives and commissioned interventions. This suggests a complex social issue that needs to be addressed in a variety of ways (e.g., professional training, multi-service partnerships, more youth support workers, education, and awareness training).
- A lack of secure long-term funding limits the impact and reach of the service.
- The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service makes a real impact in the lives of people and communities it supports, and this is best evidenced in the short- to mid-term through anecdotal feedback and narratives.
Future development and recommendations
The recommendations for the Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Community Service can be summarised into two main categories:
- a need to develop processes to capture and evidence tangible impact in the local community, and
- to secure a funding cycle that will allow for stability and growth.
The information used to assess the Community Service and its team indicates a successful offer delivered by knowledgeable and dedicated staff. With the appropriate level of financial support, there is clear evidence that the Community Team could produce proof of their local impact and wider reach.
- Secure a funding stream that allows for the continuance of the youth support work and the ability to dedicate resources to embedding evaluation of impact into the service delivery.
- Create a follow-up procedure for service users who leave or complete the one-to-one mentoring intervention to determine longitudinal influence and impact.
- Create a follow-up process for schools and the young people who complete the Anger and Emotions programme to determine longitudinal influence and impact.
- Have the Anger and Emotions programme independently evaluated and assessed for therapeutic fidelity and properties of longitudinal behaviour change.
- Apply the recommendations already provided to streamline the delivery of the Gang Awareness Training
- Create a follow-up process for participants of the Gang Awareness training to determine longitudinal influence on professional practice and to demonstrate impact through partner services and organisations.