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Our focus areas

We’re focusing our work on areas where we see the biggest opportunities to improve support for children and young people at risk of becoming involved in violent crime.

Preventing violent crime through our focus areas

The Youth Endowment Fund is here to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. To help us make the biggest difference over the ten years of our endowment, we’ve selected a set of focus areas where we’ll use evidence to identify what works and what needs to change, so that children are better supported and violence reduces.

We believe these focus areas present the greatest opportunities to prevent young people becoming involved in violence. We’ve carefully selected these areas for a number of reasons. There are clear gaps in the evidence where we can focus our research. There are approaches within these areas that can be robustly evaluated. And, importantly, we think changes in policies and practice in these areas could lead to lasting, positive change for young people, their families and communities.

In each focus area, we’ll fund research to build a better understanding of what works to prevent violence. We’ll review the current evidence and make it accessible for everyone to understand. And we’ll build coalitions and support for change, to put what we learn into action.

Our focus areas are…

1. Diversion

How do we best support arrested children to prevent them becoming involved in violence?

This area covers support for children from the point of arrest up until attendance at court. It does not include activities that occur before an arrest, which we term ‘prevention’ rather than ‘diversion’ – these are covered by our other focus areas.

2. Education

What should happen in schools, colleges and alternative provision to prevent children becoming involved in violence?

This area covers school-wide policies and practices, including safeguarding measures, support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), managing exclusions and suspensions and strategies to address persistent and unauthorised absences. It also includes individual interventions to address specific issues – such as bullying, relationship violence and carrying knives.

3. Family support

How do we best support families facing challenges to help them create a safe, loving environment at home?

This includes family therapy, parenting classes and interventions for reducing parental conflict and domestic abuse. Our goal is to build knowledge about the most effective ways to support families, foster carers and those within the care system.

4. Neighbourhood

How do we reduce crime and violence in specific neighbourhoods?  

We’re interested in two main approaches. The first brings together and empowers local agencies, organisations and communities to design and deliver targeted support to children who are most at risk of becoming involved in violent crime. The second is the community environment and infrastructure, such as the use of CCTV, street lighting and knife bins.

  • Place-based grant round

    Grant:Neighbourhood Fund

    The Neighbourhood Fund will test different models and approaches to community engagement to better understand how, where and why it can keep children safe from involvement in violence.

5. Policing

How does policing best prevent violence – including through working with other organisations where the police are not the lead?

This area includes focused deterrence, an approach that combines communicating the consequences of violence with support for developing positive routes away from it, as well as practices such as hotspots policing and community policing.

  • Place-based grant round

    Grant:Agency Collaboration Fund: Another chance

    In the first grant round of our Agency Collaboration Fund we’re investing in a multi-agency approach which research has shown to be particularly effective at reducing violent crime: focused deterrence.

6. Positive activities

How do we use constructive activities, like sport, drama and employment, to prevent children becoming involved in violence?

These activities may also be used as a ‘hook’ to engage children in additional beneficial services or support.

  • Themed grant round

    Grant:Positive activities

    We’re looking to learn more about the impact of the arts, sports and wilderness and adventure activities on reducing violent offending behaviours for children and young people who have been – or are at high-risk of being – affected by violence, offending and/or exploitation.

7. Therapies

How do we use therapy to keep children save from becoming involved in violence?

This support spans a broad spectrum of interventions from cognitive behavioural therapy to help children manage negative thoughts and behaviours, speech and language therapy to improve communication and interaction with others, and therapy to help recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It also includes supporting children to recover from trauma or training staff to recognise its signs and symptoms.

8. Trusted adults

How can a trusted adult outside the family help keep a child safe from becoming involved in violence?

These adults can include mentors, youth workers, caseworkers and key workers. In situations where a child requires support, but may not feel comfortable approaching a family member, having a trusted adult in their life who they can rely on for assistance, guidance and reassurance can make a big difference.

  • Themed grant round

    Grant:A trusted adult

    We’re looking to fund and evaluate projects where trusted adult relationships – outside of the family environment – is a defining or core feature of their work to improve outcomes for children and young people who have been or are at high-risk of being affected by violence, offending and/or exploitation.