Waltham Forest Gangs Prevention Programme

Benefits and money advice

Main objectives

The main objectives of Waltham Forest’s newly commissioned Gangs Programme are:

  • To provide outcome-based and personalised engagement to people who are current, potential or ex-gang members, or those who have been victims or survivors of gang activity.
  • To develop a community narrative around gang involvement that seeks to pose positive viable alternatives.
  • To support people to improve and maintain their life chances and well-being, and develop the resilience to make positive choices.
  • To work collaboratively with partners, and in particular services in other organisations working in this area, including social care, housing and community mental health.
  • To provide services that reflect best practice, innovation and strategic policy direction and are responsive to emerging legislation and structures and changes on the ground.

Ask Me about gangs

This programme builds on the existing model for mobilising communities to tackle domestic abuse and pilots it in the context of gang and youth violence. The existing “Ask Me” programme is a response to domestic abuse that works on the principle that every point of interaction with a survivor is an opportunity for intervention.

A key element of our gangs programme is the locality model, which is characterised by community-level dialogue. This dialogue brings intelligence in to the programme but also ensures accurate and up to date information is spread out into the community.

Ask Me” about gangs links with this approach, trained ambassadors are liaising with the programme about risk relating to people and places in their local area. Ambassadors are receiving up to date information which supports myth busting and challenging of views in their day to day interactions with the community. 

This programme is being delivered by We Can Work It Out, a dedicated transformational change consultancy.

Community mentoring

This part of the programme is building trusted relationships between vulnerable young people with moderate relational difficulties and community members with relevant educational and occupational backgrounds to the young person’s ambitions and interests.

There is evidence to suggest that mentoring targeting young people with moderate levels of relational difficulties, rather than either severe difficulties or no difficulties, can be particularly effective, creating trust and leading to more positive outcomes.

This programme is focusing on young people in education, who may be experiencing challenges and displaying problematic behaviour, and/or who may have been a victim of gang violence, with the young people described above between the ages of 11and 16. It forms part of a group of schools-focused universal and targeted interventions or pathways. The mentoring relationships are taking place in the community, rather than in the school environment.

This project is being delivered by Spark2Life a local organisation delivering services to young people in Waltham Forest. 

Adult casework

This part of the programme is providing combined adult case work, prison and through the gate support to facilitate positive relationship building and job/educational advancement for those adult gang members already in the community or returning from custody to mainstream society. Many prisoners reach their release date without their immediate resettlement needs having been met, or even recognised. These needs could be around debt, accommodation, employment or assistance with specialist education or training.

This programme is being delivered by Change Grow Live (CGL) a voluntary organization specializing in substance misuse and criminal justice intervention projects in England and Wales. 

Detached outreach

This project is supporting individuals with emerging gang affiliation to address the root causes behind that affiliation and work with them to support a different lifestyle. The programme involves working with them in their environment, whether that is on the streets or in places they congregate.

This project is being delivered by Spark2Life a local organisation delivering services to young people in Waltham Forest. 

Gender mainstreaming

This programme is facilitating training, capacity building, case consultation and critical review services. It is embedding gender responsive service delivery across all programme areas. The programme aims to develop awareness of, and capacity to respond to, gender based violence and exploitation across all gang prevention programme activities.

The increasing involvement of women and girls in the activity of gangs was highlighted in our recent study. This has further emphasised the need for all services in, and relating to, our gangs programme to be gender responsive and ensure their services meet the needs of women and girls

This area of the programme will ensure that services are set up to understand how gender affects their activity and how they should tailor their delivery to be appropriate.

This service has an embedded role within the gangs programme to ensure gender mainstreaming activity is business as usual for all services.

This part of the programme is closely linked to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Pan-London County Lines Project.

This service is being delivered by Abianda a social enterprise that works with young women affected by gangs  

More information

For more information about any of the above services, or to find out how to access the service, please email communitysafety@walthamforest.gov.uk