How Redthread are helping victims of violence turn their lives around

As Birmingham, and the wider West Midlands, continues to see a rise in violent crime – particularly knife crime – Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities talks about his recent visit to Redthread.

The latest Government statistics make clear how knife crime has risen across the West Midlands, with a reported year-on-year increase of 17% between 2017 and 2018. In Birmingham, in the past 12 months, ten people lost their lives to knives - five of whom were young people.

Victims of violence may find themselves in a busy A&E department where, if they are lucky, they are seen, treated and then sent home - but at Heartlands Hospital, youth workers from charity Redthread have been working alongside medics at the frontline.

By talking to children and young people at the earliest opportunity – whether it’s in a waiting room, resus bay, or on the ward - they start conversations that carry on in the community, helping them to make better choices and see there are opportunities out there for them.

In short, medics may save their lives but this tiny team, which also has a base at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, changes lives.

Redthread’s presence allows consultants, doctors and nurses to see more patients, while youth workers spend time finding out why they’re in A&E at 4am when they should be at school the next day, identifying possible exploitation – and offering support that they may not have had before coming into hospital.

The impact on individuals is phenomenal – it can be a life changer: During my visit, I heard about a young man who came in with knife injuries - he was on the periphery of gang activity – after he was attacked ‘by mistake’. He had issues and no aspirations, but after a youth worker’s intervention and on-going support in the community, he’s been inspired to pursue his ambitions, by gaining qualifications and applying for jobs.

Between August 2018 and March 2019, Redthread have supported 119 young people at Heartlands – 34 on a longer-term basis, and 103 at the QE Hospital, where they’ve helped 43 young people pursue new paths.

Tackling violent crime, and the impact it has on our city, our communities, is not something any organisation can do on its own. It’s not just down to the police or hospitals to prosecute or treat the victims of violence, this requires a whole city approach to look at the root causes as well as innovative initiatives like Redthread.

This brilliant project is at the forefront of dealing with breaking the cycle of violence that affects so many of our young people – it is so impressive. We need to build on initiatives like these, because the difference it’s made at Heartlands and the QE in just eight months is staggering.

This blog was posted on 22 May 2019

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