Medway Council held a conference for foster carers to learn more about what they can do to help safeguard children from gangs.
Last month’s conference was attended by more than 100 people including Medway foster carers, social workers, residential workers and other staff members. It aimed to help attendees understand the risks children face if they were to become involved in a gang, and what could be done to support them if they have concerns, as this is a challenge emerging in wider communities.
The training was provided by Reform Restore Respect, which aims to reduce the numbers of young people who believe that crime and gangs are ‘cool’. The charity visits schools, pupil referral units, SEN schools, youth groups and youth offending services to educate young people about the dangers of crime.
The council is also supporting the Department for Education’s Together We Can Tackle Child Abuse Campaign and is encouraging members of the public to report child abuse and neglect.
Working with secondary schools
In partnership with Medway Youth Services, Medway’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) were recently successful in a Home Office funding bid for a number of youth violence and gang initiatives. Part of this bid was to work with a charity called Growing Against Violence (GAV) to pilot gang awareness sessions in a number of secondary schools. The charity delivers programmes in schools to address peer pressure and violence.
The funding bid enabled the CSP to pilot two professional sessions aimed at engaging a broad range of frontline staff to give them a greater awareness of gangs and youth violence. A number of schools have taken part in the programme which includes sessions on peer pressure, debunking myths around gangs, joint enterprise and the consequences of carrying a knife.
Medway Council is also seeking to work alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer in Kent: The Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan which aims to combat organised crime and gangs.
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said:
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of local children and the conference helped highlight what carers can do to help protect vulnerable children. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I would encourage anyone to seek support if they are concerned for a young person.”
If you are worried about a child or young person call 01634 334466 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, or call the out of hours service on 03000 419 191, or in an emergency call 999.