Catalyst is among the nine housing associations that have joined in partnership with London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to work together with communities to identify and put in place new projects to drive down violence.

The VRU and housing associations will work together with communities to develop measures such as mentoring support for young people, the development of skills to help young people better manage conflict, counselling to prevent reoffending, training for parents and the wider community to identify risk factors and the provision of safe spaces for young people.

In some parts of London, violence is often concentrated in small areas, such as an estate, a cluster of streets, or a main road. Housing associations are uniquely placed to help because they work with local grassroots organisations supporting the community, and own and manage a large number of homes in areas of the capital where high levels of violence are affecting young people. In addition to important local knowledge, their strong relationships make them well-placed to work with the community and young people to develop and introduce measures to reduce violence.

The VRU – set up by the Mayor of London in 2018 – works with London’s communities and partners to tackle the causes of violence, and to promote positive opportunities. The VRU has formed a new three-year partnership with Catalyst, Clarion Housing Group, Hyde, MTVH (Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing), One Housing, Optivo, Peabody, Poplar Harca and Southern Housing Group, through the Housing Association Youth Network.

Bringing together these housing associations with the VRU will improve collaboration in efforts to reduce violence across seven boroughs – Brent, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

The new partnership will identify any overlaps or gaps in existing work to reduce violence and support young people, and includes the funding of two posts in the VRU – a Programme Manager and Programme Coordinator. These new roles will work closely with local communities and young people to help them influence and inform the design of future projects and services that are needed to address the causes of violence.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated problems like poverty, inequality, social alienation and a lack of opportunities for young people.

“I established London’s Violence Reduction Unit, the first in England, to fund programmes that provide young people with positive opportunities and help Londoners into employment and training.

“It’s crucial we work with others, like housing associations in our city, because we know poor housing and deprivation go hand in hand and can often be an underlying cause of violence. Housing associations can deliver local solutions to tackling these issues and share our approach to diverting vulnerable young Londoners away from violence by providing them with help and support at key moments in their lives.”

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Central to our approach to tackling violence is partnering with others across London on prevention and early intervention. We must all work together to reduce violence and help empower local communities to shape the projects we deliver.

“That’s why I’m really pleased that this new partnership, which sits alongside work we do with the NHS, local councils, education providers and community groups, will allow us to work with housing associations in key areas of the city, drawing on their local connections and resources to better support young people and families.”

Sarah Willis, Chair of the Housing Association Youth Network (HAYN), said: “As social landlords, we want everyone to feel safe and secure in their homes, so it’s essential we understand the drivers of violence in communities and work together to address the underlying causes.

“Violence affecting young people can only be tackled with collaboration and collective action, and that’s why we’re proud to be joining forces with the Mayor to make a difference in these London boroughs.”