TIP REPORT

Power The Fight: Therapeutic Intervention for Peace (TIP) Report

Released September 22, 2020

“…this is the first time I’ve ever spoken about it, actually being asked questions… normally when I speak about it I’m almost talking about it as if I’m going to the shop. So I’m quite emotionally removed from it… I think you’re kind of constantly in a state of – maybe… like traumatic disorder – like you’re living in it and then another person dies and another person dies, so you don’t actually recover from it. I didn’t even think to ask for support, I felt like… this is life.” (Family Member)

Yesterday was World Peace Day and today, Tuesday 22 September 2020, we are excited to release the Power The Fight: Therapeutic Intervention for Peace report. Commissioned by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, the report aims to evidence the experiences of young people, families and practitioners in order to improve the effectiveness of therapeutic responses to violence affecting young people in London.

It is widely acknowledged that serious youth violence devastates the lives of young people, families and communities. What is less documented is how communities best heal from such tragic circumstances, and furthermore, the existence of barriers for those impacted in terms of seeking professional support to move forward and to build resilience.

Our experience is that while people may need and want access to therapeutic help, often they do not ‘fit’ the criteria for existing services. Even when they do, these services may not be ones that they would feel comfortable accessing. Meanwhile, more and more young people are suffering from the trauma of the amplification of violence affecting young people in their local area through the news and social media.

“…the minute you mention a therapist they’d be like ‘No bruv, no, I’m not about that!’… they don’t want it to affect their status or they don’t want it to affect how they even see themselves when they’re already so powerless… So they want to have control of their image in some capacity and for them not accessing mental health is probably a way that they do it”. (Senior Programmes & Partnerships Manager)

In the context of increasing rates of interpersonal violence in the capital and renewed commitment to the public health approach, this research provides practical recommendations for the improvement of therapeutic services in London. The report draws on qualitative and quantitative data from 102 young people, five families and 26 professionals providing extensive analysis of community experiences of therapeutic services.

“…A young person’s walking into a room, seeing a white woman, 40s, 50s – ‘you ain’t going to understand my struggle’… I know when I walk into a room, 20 young people, if they’re all Black, 90% of them I’ve already engaged… Whereas you’ve got a white person coming in now, it’s like ‘looks like the man who sentenced me… like the police officer that interviewed me… like my teacher that got me expelled.’ …you’re reminding them of people that have previously let them down”. (Intervention Lead)

There are 11 key findings and 4 key recommendations. The report concludes that effective therapeutic interventions to end violence affecting young people are reliant on applied cultural competency and recommends pragmatic steps for service improvement. The report’s recommendations are aimed at institutions and Government bodies working with families and young people, including the NHS, Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, Ofsted, Youth Justice Board, Metropolitan Police Service, local authorities and youth charities. We hope this report adds to the ongoing conversation on making therapeutic services more accessible for those impacted by violence affecting young people and leads to increased funding opportunities to address these findings.

Ben Lindsay, Chief Executive of Power The Fight, said:

“One of the questions this report seeks to answer is whether the lack of cultural competency among therapeutic professionals contributes significantly to the low uptake of therapy by Black and brown communities. My hope is that the findings of this report influence practice and make a lasting difference to the support available to communities impacted by youth violence.”

Lib Peck, Director of the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“This report challenges us to think differently about the levels of support provided to communities. Casting a critical eye over existing provision, it questions whether the support is accessible enough to reach the communities where it is most needed, pointing in particular to the inadequacy of support available for young people whose friends have been tragically killed.”

Claire Waxman, London’s Victim Commissioner, said:

“This report from Power the Fight is a hugely valuable contribution to our understanding of how best to support communities experiencing trauma as a result of serious youth violence.”

John Sutherland, Retired Police Commander, said:

“Youth Violence is surely one of the most urgent issues of our time – a humanitarian crisis unravelling on our streets and in our communities. Power the Fight understand that there are no easy, quick fixes – that, if we are actually serious about wanting to save young lives, we are going to have to start thinking and acting in radically different ways. The alternative is to wake up every day to the grim repetition of the same desperate headlines. I suspect that some will respond to the recommendations set out in this report by suggesting that ‘we can’t afford to do that’, to which my response will be that ‘we can’t afford not to’.

Naomi Beet, Therapist in Youth Offending Services, said:

“This is a timely and comprehensive report. It presents the landscape of therapeutic need amongst young people and families affected by violence in their communities and highlights how existing provision fails to meet these needs well enough. It calls for urgent attention to the shortfalls, oversights and gaps in existing therapeutic provision, especially for Black young people. The report’s recommendations will be important and – I hope – influential reading for those commissioning relevant public services. For any practitioners concerned with the problem of youth violence and striving towards more culturally competent practice, this report will be a good place to start.”

Carly Adams Elias, Organisational Lead for Exploitation, Safer London said:

“The findings in Power the Fight’s report echo the voices and experiences of the young Londoners, families and communities we work with every day. Many have experienced traumatic events that a lot of us couldn’t comprehend. Furthermore, they are often unable to access the support they need to help them address the trauma they have faced and ultimately grow and heal. Therapy and therapeutic relationships are central to the success of the public health approach, as well as individual’s path to processing and recovering from trauma.

We fully support the recommendations in this report that look to address this issue. A more nuanced and culturally competent approach is desperately needed. This will ensure accessibility to therapeutic support and a greater understanding of the needs of individuals and communities who are most significantly impacted.

The road ahead will not be without its barriers. However, it’s crucial that we address the issues highlighted with a sense of urgency and hope.”

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