March VRP Director’s Blog

North Somerset Spotlight

March VRP Director’s Blog: Uniting across Avon and Somerset to keep our young people and communities safe from serious violence

Alongside individual agency responses to tackling serious violence it is imperative that the police, local authorities, health, and other agencies work together to share data and develop long and short-term solutions to prevent these crimes from happening.

That is where the Avon and Somerset Violence Reduction Partnership (ASVRP) comes in.  It brings together all these agencies – united under a clear strategy to make communities safer and reduce the risk of young people getting involved in serious violence.

In January 2024, I joined the ASVRP as its first Director.  I am honoured to have been appointed to support the partnership and our communities in driving forward long-term actions to help reduce the impact that serious violence has on us all.

Across Avon and Somerset, we are delivering locally through five VRPs which are aligned to each of the local authority areas.  These VRPs work to identify young people at risk of becoming involved in serious violence and to reduce that risk – through tailored and targeted support.

Support includes mentoring, projects to help keep young people in school, training, and advice on how to navigate social media and conflict as well as funding for sports and youth services.  The VRPs also provide more universal advice and support to parents and young people through parenting support groups and knife crime awareness events in schools as well as training to help professionals working with young people.

Between April 2023 and December 2023 over 10,350 young people have been reached through one of the 56 VRP supported prevention interventions operating across Avon and Somerset. This important work in our communities will continue throughout 2024, supported by £1.6M in funding to the partnership from the Home Office.

At the end of January the partnership published a new strategy, which will drive its future work.  Its focus is to eliminate serious violence, protect the vulnerable and create safer communities by working collaboratively to understand and address the root causes of serious youth violence in Avon and Somerset, with a focus on education, prevention, and protection. 

Serious youth violence is a complex societal issue. Its causes are many and its impact is devastating – on individuals and on communities.  It cannot and will not be solved by one agency or organisation working in isolation or overnight.  We must work together to ensure we understand its causes, identify the solutions that work to reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in these crimes and direct our resources and efforts into those areas.  My role as the Director of the VRP is to help and support the agencies to do just that.

In everything we do, it is vital that we work with communities, parents and our children and young people to ensure we understand how they feel and what they need as well as engage them in decision making. The partnership’s Board, chaired by the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Claire Hiscott, confirmed its commitment to this when it met at the end of February and the team and I will be working to ensure that we capture and hear their voices and reflect them in the work we do.

I know that this is a difficult time for everyone affected by serious violence, and that some people may be afraid to express their concerns. The five local authority VRPs offer tailored and targeted support for young people, their families, and those affected by recent events.  If you want to access that support and advice – visit your local authority’s website or asvrp.co.uk.

Natalie Lavis

A&S Violence Reduction Partnership Director