Violence that affects Young people


Violence within Lambeth is an issue and the incidence of serious youth violence is of concern. There is significant crossover between the risk/protective factors linked to one’s health outcomes and the incidents of violence. However, there is no evidence to suggest that there is a causal pathway. Lambeth Council is taking steps to reduce the level of violence that affects young people by adopting a public health approach. This way of working recognises that violence within society is a result of a range of factors and highlights the need to address inequality.

While Black Thrive welcomes this approach, public health as a discipline has not always been forthcoming in making the connection between inequality and wider systems of oppression (e.g. racism, sexism, heterosexism, homophobia etc.). In the media and in wider society we rarely hear people talking about the role of state violence, despite evidence that suggests exposure to this form of violence affects peoples physical and mental health.

Black communities are more likely to be subjected to higher levels of surveillance (e.g. stop and search) and more coercive experiences within the statutory system (e.g. criminal justice, mental health, education system) all of which has a profound impact on their health and social outcomes. This pattern is not unique to Lambeth, but a global phenomenon which highlights how pervasive the ‘isms’ are within society. A preventative agenda that fails to attend to the racialised experience of Black communities, will at best be ineffective and at worst create vulnerabilities which reinforce the inequalities faced by Black people.

Black Thrive is a member of the Serious Youth Violence Board and has put forward a recommendation that their public health approach adopts an antiracist lens. Paying attention to social inequalities and the role of racism and discrimination will help us to gain a deeper insight into the issue and for us to be better equipped to respond to the challenge ahead.

Our work with the Council, partners and communities aims to

  • Develop a shared understanding between communities and the workforce of equalities, diversity and anti-discriminatory practice
  • Support staff to understand how racism operates and implement strategies to address it within their work
  • Enable staff and communities to support and respectfully challenge one another to be anti-racist
  • Provide the workforce with insight into the ‘Black experience’
  • Work with communities to take a leadership role in in supporting this work

It is recognised that this work sits within broader systems of oppression. But we will work with partners to help them to plan for and manage the effects of these external forces and to help them to identify the levers they have to make positive changes. It is hoped that the learning from this work may also help to inform the wider work of the council and to influence policy and practice beyond Lambeth’s boundary.

May 2019 Black Thrive host “Keeping Our Children and Young People Safe” held in collaboration with Lambeth Made, Lambeth Council and Young Lambeth COOP. 

January 2020 saw a new initiative form and continue the conversation in the borough. Black Thrive supported I AM LAMBETH WE ARE LAMBETH. 

Artist Dr Pen Mendonca captured the January 2020 event with this image.