“What can be done to tackle the issue of gang violence among our youth”? How about we give them safe environments where they can just be and learn from mentors and role models? A series of Safe Space workshops, launched this week, hosted by the Yana Project aims to do just that.

 

With ever increasing reports of knife crime and violence perpetuated by young people, the Safe Space scheme couldn’t have come at a better time, launching on 15 May 2018, for four months, up to the UK school summer holidays.

Founded by social entrepreneur and media personality, Jenni Steele, the Safe Space series will work with young people from under-privileged backgrounds who have been affected by gang violence, sexual grooming, domestic violence and abuse.

The initial series of workshops will focus on girls and young women. The aim of these workshops will be for girls to openly discuss all of the issues that they are challenged with.  There will also be an event organised in partnership with Juvenis called Brunch Brothers where boys will get the opportunity to have supportive conversations and to share their experiences.

Yana Project Jenni Steele
At the launch of Safe Spaces: (left) Jenni Steele; (centre) Ayshia Slique Spa; Claire Waxman London Victims’ Commissioner

The Yana Project, founded by Jenni Steele, who says her British Caribbean upbringing, allows her to understand the true meaning of overcoming adversity, offers young people a place where they can go to make connections, learn from role models, access services and become decision-makers in their lives.

Speaking about the scheme, Jenni said: “The initiative aims to enhance inspiration, encourage aspirational thinking and build confidence within the young people taking part and ultimately it will create positive change for the future.  Creating safe space environments within school and providing young people with social and emotional security builds strong foundations of self-worth that can last a lifetime.”

A mentor, with tonnes of youth work and advocacy experience, Jenni added:

“Not enough young people have a safe space environment around them to get the support that they need when things go wrong in their lives. This can stem from a number of barriers; they may not know it exists and they may not even realise what they are going through and how it could be affecting them now or in the future.”

The importance of schemes like this cannot be underestimated. “In my line of work many young people are missed, fall under the radar. How do we educate, support, sign post, inspire and motivate them if we don’t know they exist? It’s all about relationships!”

Yana Project Jenni Steele
Jenni Steele

The Safe Space scheme will take place once a month in a school in Lambeth from May 2018 until July 2018.

Find out more, visit the Yana Project website.

 

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