By Joshua Robinson –
The West Yorkshire Youth Commission is taking centre stage in a ‘Big Conversation’ to tackle serious violence and exploitation across the region.
Between May and September 2023, its members participated in peer research with over 1300 young people, including 39 consultation sessions and two surveys.
The pioneering collaboration with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) saw the group of 14 to 25-year-olds announce their findings and recommendations at an event in Leeds on Tuesday, 17th October.
They covered four priority aims:
- Rehabilitation and Prevention
- Community Relationships and Life
- Attitudes and Violence Towards Women & Girls
- Gangs, Drugs, and Knife Crime
Director of the West Yorkshire VRP, Ch Supt Lee Berry, spoke at the ‘Big Conversation’ conference and said: “It is absolutely critical that we understand the lens through which young people experience life in West Yorkshire and how we can work better together to protect them from harm.”
“These findings and recommendations will help shape the partnership response to serious violence, putting their voice at the heart of our approach.”
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“It ensures organisations are tuned into the barriers, challenges and concerns, but crucially, it allows them to recognise the type of action required.”
West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, was also a speaker at the event and said: “The members of the West Yorkshire Youth Commission have shown great determination and passion, using their position to support the safety of young people across our communities.”
“I care deeply about inclusion, and we can only tackle serious violence effectively if we listen to those it affects, working together to arrive at the solutions.”
“I will be listening carefully to what they have found in response to their priorities, which also mirror those of the Mayor and her Police and Crime Plan.”
Leaders Unlocked, who specialise in giving underrepresented groups a stronger voice, have led the work.
Emily Blavins, Leaders Unlocked’s Project Manager, added: “The Youth Commission has worked tirelessly to develop these recommendations using active listening and interviewing skills, as well as peer facilitation training.”
“They held four ‘Independent Advisory Group’ meetings with the Violence Reduction Partnership and also gave views around the newly introduced serious violence duty.”
“It is a testament to their dedication that they are now influencing decision-making around violent crime and exploitation, and all through the eyes of young people.”