Helping young victims of violence and gangs


Enfield now has the second highest level of serious youth violence in London. (Source: Metropolitan Police Data Store)


Dr Gayle Hann, lead for paediatric emergency medicine, devised the ’grab bag’ scheme after a 14-year-old girl came into A&E with bruising and a nosebleed following an assault. She was seen by a nurse who was concerned that she was vulnerable but before she could be seen by a doctor, a major case involving resuscitation arrived. When she was eventually called she had left. During follow-up enquiries, the hospital established she had been reported missing.

Approximately 4000 young people aged 12-18 years from both Enfield and Haringey are treated in the A&E department and North Middlesex annually. These include the hardest to reach, vulnerable adolescents - Looked after children (LAC), those who do not attend school/college and those in gangs. The idea of using grab bags was to deliver information about local services and also to educate – this was part of a bi-borough multi-agency project which aimed to target child sexual exploitation (CSE), gang activity and missing children.

Working with Enfield and Haringey health and social care colleagues and the Local Safeguarding Children's Board, and testing ideas with a focus group of young people, Dr Hann launched the bag scheme to deliver information about local services and to educate young people. It includes leaflets about a range of services, a lip balm with a hidden helpline number for victims of domestic violence and useful contact numbers.

The presentation gives an overview of the project.

The bags have been:

•Developed with the advice of young people
•Resourced by multiple agencies
•Contents selected to tackle multiple important issues that vulnerable young people face
•Designed for enabling feedback - a questionnaire is stapled to the front of the bag

Current outcomes of this project

Feedback questionnaires have been collated and young people responded positively to the Grab Bag Initiative;
•More than half the users surveyed said they would recommend the grab bag to a friend
•Many young people found the information provided useful
•The highest rated items were condoms, helpline numbers and drug advice
•The few finding the ‘runaway’ information useful may represent some of the hardest to reach
•If young people are sharing the information received (e.g. the lip salve) it has the potential to reach the wider community

Future objectives for this project

The grab bag scheme while inspired by one patient is having a wider impact on how we try to care for some of our most vulnerable young people. There are 225 recognised gangs operating in London and the gangs around the hospital area have been mapped to show who is in conflict with each other.

The hospital along with health and social care partners have decided to continue with this scheme to inform and educate young people on the services available to them for a range of issues, and to develop further alliance working with professionals and young people. We want to use a multi-disciplinary approach to target groups/individuals that are harder to reach, and to break down barriers to services.

We want to increase;
•Awareness of local organisations and services available
•Accessibility and confidence for young people to approach local health and social care services
•Knowledge of who to speak to and where to go in specific situations
•Empowerment, self-care and responsibility within the youth community
•Support for young people with a range of issues
•Use of the right services

We want to decrease;
•Isolation and disengagement
•Gang culture
•Stigma around certain issues
•Barriers in accessing services