Bedfordshire’s specialist unit dedicated to tackling the violence and exploitation of young people showcased its work to the Home Office last week.
The county’s partnership Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) hosted dozens of officials at the Hat Factory in Luton on Wednesday (25 January), highlighting work and commissioned projects which have reached thousands of young people.
One of 20 unit across the country taking a public health approach to tackling violence, the VERU benefits from funding directly from the government. This comes in recognition of the major challenges Bedfordshire faces in areas such as knife crime, drugs and children and young people being exploited.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “The role of our VERU in sustaining a safer Bedfordshire is crucial, which is why I very much welcome the three year funding settlement we received from the Government in 2022.
“By creating opportunities and improving the lives of young people, this hugely important work is making all of us safer.
“It is vital that this work carries on and I will be pushing relentlessly for the Home Office to continue this investment into Bedfordshire.”
Wednesday’s event heard directly from three young people who have turned their lives around as the result of the support provided by VERU funded projects.
Guests also heard from the VERU’s youth intervention specialist team, including three case studies where their work directly with young people has led to hugely positive changes.
The team has also delivered presentations to more than 7,000 students in schools and colleges across the county.
Projects funded by the VERU to work with young people, namely Samson’s Academy, Mary Seacole Housing Association, Dan Gaze Support Services, Next Generation Youth Theatre, CANter Equine Therapeutic Services, the Luton Youth Partnership Service and Bedfordshire Open Door, also presented to officials about the work they are doing across the county.
Kimberley Lamb, Director of Bedfordshire VERU, said: “The event was an inspiring demonstration of the truly amazing work that VERU staff, and our funded programmes, are doing across the county every day to make a difference to local young people.
“From schools and sports programmes through to the arts and specialist counselling services, the Home Office were given a comprehensive tour of every aspect of our VERU Village. I am immensely proud of all their efforts.
“With longer term funding for Violence Reduction Units confirmed for the first time, I am excited for us to be able to continue this impact and invest in more brilliant schemes which help keep our children and young people safe.”
For more information about VERU projects or to get involved visit www.bedsveru.org/our-projects/