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Minister supports new Path away from gangs

Photo: Megan Taylor
Photo: Megan Taylor

Our innovative programme to tackle gang culture in London could become a new model for a nationwide response to the problem, says Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson.

The Minister backed the initiative at a special summit in London on March 17, where groups involved in the Path Programme shared thoughts on the challenges of working in this field and opportunities for collaboration.

Following an exploratory pilot in Lambeth, funded by the Foundation’s Lambeth Community Fund, the project was launched full scale in November 2013 in partnership with the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund and Office for Civil Society. It now operates across Lambeth, Brent and Camden.

Strategic approach

The Path Programme is a strategic approach to funding gang intervention activity at borough level. Alongside direct grants to groups that offer young people an escape route from gangs, the project uses a ‘Grants-plus Model’ that includes grant funding, local coordination by Safer London Foundation, and independent evaluation by Scott Flynn Consultants.

The coordination role helps frontline groups to develop partnerships and referral processes, advocate to and partner with statutory services, raise funds through consortium bids, and improve in areas such as administration, governance and monitoring.

Speaking from the London Evening Standard, Campaigns Editor, David Cohen said “The London Evening Standard together with the London Community Foundation are of the view that for this programme we should not only be funding individual groups, but also collaboration and cooperation between them. The idea is that this will surely bring even greater benefits”.

So far, the Path Programme has worked with 11 organisations across London. Many of them attended the March 17 summit, where they took part in facilitated workshops to share their intelligence – on how to help individuals affected by gangs and how to build communities that were more resilient to gang culture and recruitment.

Stronger communities

Speaking at the event, the Minister said he’d only recently attended a cross-departmental meeting on this issue, hosted by the Home Secretary. “We recognise the need not just to focus on people, but on place as well,” he said. “That’s why I’m particularly interested in what you are doing in Lambeth, Camden and Brent.”

The Minister said he looked forward to seeing the programme evaluation reports, adding: “I think they could be a roadmap for what we do elsewhere across the country.”

“I’ve seen the kind of springboard these initiatives can provide to young people who really deserve a second chance in life,” he continued. “Together, we can help to put these young people on the pathway to make changes, not only in their own lives, but also for their communities and for the wider world in which they live.”

On the front line

The coordination element of the programme should make it easier for frontline groups to focus more of their effort on delivering their services. Rebecca Cheshire, Director of Programmes and Business Development at Safer London said, “We are very excited to be part of this innovative programme. Our role is to ensure that all of the organisations have strong working relationships with each other and partners in the borough, to ensure that we are supporting the development of partnerships and referral processes and that good practise is shared, as well as linking in with the wider strategic priorities for London.”

Only a beginning

Our CEO, Sonal Shah, thanked the groups involved in the Path Programme, its founding funders – The Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund with £200,000, Office for Civil Society with £800,000, our Lambeth Community Fund Donors £100,000 – and Microsoft, which hosted the summit.

And she encouraged more funders and supporters to back the project. “We think this is a really exciting initiative, and it’s much needed,” she said. “The programme is off to a great start, but this really is only the beginning. We need more support to give it the wings it really deserves.”

Click here for more information about The Path Programme – how it works and how you could get involved.

Click here to read about the work of Streets of Growth, one of The Path Programme groups, and how women are playing a crucial role in tackling gangs.

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