Home Office minister and young people meet in Peckham
Along with our chief executive, young people and staff from our projects based in Peckham welcomed Jeremy Browne, MP and Home Office minister.
The minister, who has responsibility for missing children, homelessness and anti-social behaviour, visited our projects that work on these issues. It was an opportunity for him to learn about our work, find out about the key policy changes that we want to achieve, and to hear from young people about their experiences and their involvement in our projects.
For the young people it was a rare opportunity to speak directly to a government minister, share their stories and talk about support they need to succeed. The young people had a great time. Any nerves they experienced before the meeting disappeared by the time their friendly chat with the minister started over a slice of pizza.
One young person, age 15, said: 'I was a bit nervous but the minister was OK and he asked things that made me think. I am really happy I did it and I want my head teacher to know I talked about the intergenerational project and also about being a young person in Woolwich. I would do it again.'
Another young person said: 'I had a good day. The minister was really nice. I thought he wouldn’t be interested in me but he asked loads of questions. I would do something like that again - going to work was fun!'
The minister also enjoyed meeting the young people. He said: 'I was really pleased to meet a group of young people at The Children's Society's project in Peckham, hear their individual stories and see first-hand how they have benefited from the invaluable support services offered to them.'
Our work with young people at risk on the streets
Jeremy Browne is implementing the government’s strategy on missing children. So this visit was an occasion for us to share learnings with him from our direct work with children who run away or go missing, such as the importance of providing one-to-one intensive support to young runaways and their families.
He participated in a taster training session run by our young trainers. The session was like the ones they deliver in schools to raise awareness about the risks of running away and to inform other young people about services that can help.
He also heard from young people who had run away and professionals who work with young runaways about the dangers young people face when missing from home or care. They talked about risks of being targeted for sexual exploitation, getting involved in gangs and serious youth violence.
The minster said: ‘It was good to see the government’s objectives, which are outlined in the strategy for missing adults and children, being delivered and making a difference. The commitment and expertise of those who carry out this important work is hugely impressive and I’d like to thank them for the insight they gave me.’
Unaccompanied children who experience destitution and homelessness
Practitioners from our New Londoners project told the minister about the holistic support and advocacy they provide to unaccompanied asylum seeking children from abroad in the absence of a parental figure.
Some of the children we work with find themselves destitute and homeless. This puts them at great risk of violence, racist attacks, hate crime and exploitation on the streets.
Read more about young people and destitution in the parliamentary inquiry we supported on asylum support.
Working with different generations to tackle anti-social behaviour
The minister also met some young people, aged 10-17, and older people, over 50, who work with our intergenerational community cohesion project. This service provides mutually beneficial activities which promote interaction, greater understanding and respect to improve younger and older people's experiences of living together in their community.
As the government introduces its new anti-social, crime and policing bill into parliament, the minister heard how our projects can help by intervening early to tackle the root causes of anti-social behaviour before tensions within communities reach a crisis point.
The minister said: ‘The project’s work to tackle anti-social behaviour is a great example of how early intervention can prevent youngsters choosing a life of crime. Our new reforms aim to build on this, by addressing the underlying causes of the behaviour and getting to the root of the problem.’