Our Youth Violence Intervention Programme runs in hospital emergency departments in partnership with the major trauma network. There, our innovative service aims to reduce serious youth violence and has revolutionised the support available to young people affected by violence.
Our Young Women’s Service is embedded within our Youth Violence Intervention Programme but provides longer-term support in the lives of young women affected by sexual exploitation. Our young women’s workers work alongside our youth workers at St George’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Homerton University Hospital.
Every year thousands of young people aged 11 – 25 come through hospital doors as victims of assault and exploitation. It is then, at this time of crisis, that our youth workers and young women’s workers utilise their unique position embedded in the emergency departments alongside clinical staff to engage these young people.
Our extensive experience tells us that this moment of vulnerability, when young people are out of their comfort zone, alienated from their peers, and often coming to terms with the effects of injury, is a time of change – we call it the ‘Teachable Moment’. In this moment many are more able than ever to question what behaviour and choices have led them to this hospital bed and, with specialist youth worker support, pursue change they haven’t felt able to before.
We focus on this moment and encourage and support young people in making healthy choices and positive plans to disrupt the cruel cycle of violence that can too easily lead to re-attendance, re-injury, and devastated communities.
King’s College Hospital, Lambeth
St George’s Hospital, Wandsworth
St Mary’s Hospital, Kensington and Chelsea
Homerton University Hospital, Hackney
University College Hospital, Camden
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich
University Hospital Lewisham, Lewisham
Croydon University Hospital, Croydon
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Birmingham Children’s Hospital
King’s Mill Hospital
Queen’s Medical Centre
Young Women's Service
In the last few years, we have seen increases in girls and young women being referred to the Young Womens’ Service, yet there are very few tailored services for girls and young women that are suitable for the complexity of the problems they face. The YWS supports girls and young women who come into hospital as a result of serious violence or exploitation and provides longer-term support.
Our young women’s workers work alongside our youth workers at St George’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Homerton University Hospital.
The London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), has enabled us to build on this work by embedding our work into daily practice across the organisation, supporting colleagues with complex cases and delivering training to clinical colleagues to ensure that signs of exploitation are spotted, and appropriate referrals made. We have also had support from Comic Relief.
KAOS and other health-based youth work
On any day, across King’s College Hospital, around 20 adult beds are occupied by young people aged 16 to 25. These young people have specific medical, emotional, legal and social needs. The KAOS team will help support the medical and surgical teams on adult wards to care for young people in an age appropriate way.
The KAOS service started in 2018 and was initially comprised of a core team of two lead clinicians and a youth worker. The core team draw on the expertise of a wider team of over thirty health care professionals from different backgrounds, all with an interest in optimising care for young people. These include trauma surgeons, doctors with an expertise in children/adolescents, women’s health doctors, specialist nurses, sexual health professionals and other medical specialists. Since its launch in 2018 the service has grown to facilitate support for a wider age range with the addition of a further youth worker.
The support offered by KAOS is different for every young person admitted to the hospital and personal to their situation; it is moulded around their health needs and wider goals. Listening and providing a non-judgemental, safe space is at the core of what the service does. The KAOS youth workers make an initial visit to the young person at their bed-side on the ward and engage them in a broad health-based conversation. This can touch on various issues, such as: mental and sexual health, alcohol and drugs, diet, sleep, nutrition, social media and safety. Depending on the length of admission, the youth workers will continue to visit them, working with their families and the medical team to support their immediate care and path to recovery and discharge.
The KAOS team consists of Redthread youth workers. The team is also supported by over 30 professionals across the King’s College Hospital site, representing a breadth of professions and specialities. Each day, the team will identify adolescent patients across the hospital, meet with these patients and work with their medical and surgical teams to ensure that their needs are being met not only physically, but also emotionally and socially.
The service is part of King’s College Hospital’ wider vision to become a young person friendly hospital by improving the suitability, accessibility, quality and safety of services for young people.
Redthread’s Diabetes service model works in partnership with Queen Elizabeth Hospital Children and Young People’s Diabetes Team to increase young people’s access to diabetes services in the community and aid clinicians to better support children and young people with complex needs. A Redthread youth worker provides one-to-one support to young people aged 11-19 who have a diabetes diagnosis to empower them to better manage their illness, to build resilience, self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Amy had a rare gastrointestinal condition and was admitted to King’s to undergo several bowel procedures. A KAOS Youth Worker initially spoke to Amy over the phone, when the team were still working remotely. This support appeared to initially help Amy build up a trust and rapport with the Youth Worker, as she reported quite acute social anxiety when meeting new people face to face. The first few calls allowed Amy to express her worries about her physical health along with plans for the future. They provided her with a space to begin separating her different anxieties and factors influencing her mood. With the prospect of further investigations and uncertainty during her admission, the calls were also a chance for Amy to discuss relaxation techniques that she could utilise when going for scans. During this time, Amy also informed the Youth Worker that she had been waiting for a referral to be processed by CAMHS in her local area. The Youth Worker contacted this team and was able to update them on Amy’s current mood and concerns, and to ascertain when Amy’s support would begin.
When Amy was discharged, the KAOS Youth Worker continued to support Amy over a series of 4-6 sessions over the phone. During these calls, Amy and the Youth Worker explored goals that she felt could benefit her physical, social and mental health. As such, together they developed strategies that could help Amy’s sleep and eating pattern. Both factors Amy had wanted to work on for some time, but only now did she feel the strength and motivation to do so with the support of the KAOS team.
*Name and identifiable features have been changed.
The Hospital-based Interrupting Violence Exchange is a national network, founded and coordinated by Redthread. It is designed to help existing and emerging hospital-based violence intervention programmes share ideas and insights.
Through HIVE, we have hosted teleconferences for practitioners from different projects and different parts of the UK to talk through the opportunities and challenges posed by the unique model. We also hold conferences, where all those working on the model get together to discuss the latest developments.
If you would like to learn more about HIVE, please get in touch!