Leading youth specialists form partnership to help communities recover from Covid-19

Apr 12, 2021
Team CIC Wisdom Circles from the Catalyst in Communities EastSide Story project in Waltham Forest.Picture by Aran Knowles.

An alliance of specialists who bring shared success in tackling social and economic problems including knife crime and drug addiction are offering their expertise to the government and other bodies to build a quick and effective pathway to helping communities recover from Covid.

The partnership, established in response to a 37 per cent cut in youth addiction services over the seven years and worsening mental health among adolescents over the last 12 months, will offer a suite of advisory services.

The initiative will allow interested bodies to bring representatives of each organisation in as a single holistic team of experts to design and deliver projects which allow affected communities to heal quicker following the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Yorkshire-based Agencia, which convened the partnership, says organisations across the UK are already showing an interest in working with a partnership which has front-line experience of helping young people to overcome the most difficult challenges.

Helen Gibson, Managing Director of Agencia, said: “We have spent the Covid crisis anticipating the need for a wider, fast-changing network to deal with the challenges which Covid has highlighted and created, particularly with regard to young people.

“We are inviting government departments, local authorities, the NHS and other organisations in the public, private and third sectors to make use of our unique and wide-ranging collaborative impact team. We’ve already received some enthusiastic responses.”

Agencia, which is renowned internationally for its transformational health and justice programmes, has brought together partners from London and the North to address the action points identified from its “Beyond Covid” summit which took place via Zoom in November 2020 and rallied round a call from campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller to drive dynamic change.

Ms Miller said: “After this crisis we need to do better –­ replace complacency with compassion, think about delivering collaboration between communities, organisations, politicians and governments so that we can serve as a catalyst for more dynamic change across economics, education, healthcare systems, democracies and the environment.”

The new partnership draws on the achievements of three organisations which have found success in changing the lives of young people – Catalyst in Communities and the Tutu Foundation UK in London, and Red Everywhere, which is based in Scunthorpe and Doncaster and has links across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Robin Lockhart, Director and co-founder of Catalyst in Communities, said: “If we can come together across society, the different sectors and silos, to address a problem like Covid then that whole ethos can surely be used to do something special around gangs and poverty and deprivation.

“We need a different approach to get different results. Knife crime is the big thing in the youth sector but instead of focusing on the violence we approach it as a peace-building project. Young people are cast as the problem but really they are the people who have lived through the problem and who can therefore help to provide the solution.”

Red Everywhere,through its community interest company Resoluut, is working across Lincolnshire and Yorkshire on collective impact as a delivery model to tackle a range of diverse issues, from learning and employability to confronting serious youth violence.

MarcusIsman-Egal, senior partner at Red Everywhere, said: “The Covid climate has created significant challenges for young people and there is growing evidence that some are being coerced into a really risky lifestyle which has significant repercussions on their future prospects as well as their health and mental wellbeing.

“The black and Asian community are finding the landscape very difficult but we have reached out to our network of black and Asian employers and professionals and asked if they would be able to support and mentor people to give them a trusted adult outside the family. It’s about enabling young people to fulfil their potentialand live out their dreams.”

The Tutu Foundation UK works with the principles of Ubuntu to bring together young people and the police for round tables which aim to tackle bullying, prejudices and discrimination, and to increase respect and appreciation.

Clive Conway, Chairman of the Tutu Foundation UK, said: “After the summit, the view was unanimous that we need to follow up by identifying and delivering projects which will deal with the main issues.

“Every organisation involved in the partnership has a strong track record in delivering impactful projects and that is what we will demonstrate to potential funders, along with the details of the activities we plan to take forward and the outputs which we expect will result.”

Agencia’s work in the UK includes providing substance misuse treatment services for registered drug users in North Lincolnshire and developing a business case for work to reduce domestic abuse and sexual violence in Barnsley.

Helen said: “Our partners have proven and unrivalled experience in collaborating to address inter-generational issues, cutting across existing boundaries to reach into the most challenging communities. By bringing people together and finding solutions from within the problems, they have demonstrated an approach which is different, innovative and exactly what is needed to help us rebuild post-Covid.”

To find out more about the collaboration and the work of its partners please email Helen Gibson at info@agencialtd.com