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Youth violence charity finds people often more prepared to open up in emergency settings

Redthread’s violence intervention programme provides hospital-based support for young people

Redthread’s violence intervention programme provides hospital-based support for young people

The majority of young people referred to a youth violence intervention programme are willing to engage with support workers, RCN congress heard.


Redthread has youth workers at St Mary's Hospital in London who provide specialist support to young victims of violence. Picture: Alamy

A total of 537 young people, including 16 who had been shot, were referred to specialist youth workers based in the emergency department (ED) at St Mary’s Hospital in London last year.

Redthread charity 

Of these referrals in the 12 months up to April this year, 84% were open to speaking to staff who work for the charity Redthread.

Redthread embeds specialist youth worker teams in EDs with the aim of engaging with young people aged 11 to 24 who are affected by serious assaults.

It ran a fringe event at the college’s annual meeting in Liverpool to inform nurses and other healthcare professionals of its ‘teachable moments’ – when young people are out of their comfort zone and may be willing to talk about what has led them to be in hospital.

'Young people want to talk to us'

St Mary’s Redthread team leader Julia Mayer said young people disclose information to her in five minutes in a hospital setting, a result which could take years in the community.

‘I am amazed, literally every day, that young people want to talk to us and are so open,’ she said.

She said spikes in referrals to the charity vary across the week, and are not always at weekends as might be expected. The team works from 7.30am to 9.30pm six days a week.

Spikes in referrals

‘We see a lot of young people come in on Saturday nights, but usually there’s a spike on Tuesdays too. We have two spikes during the day – one between 11am and midday and one at about 7-8pm.’

Ms Mayer added that almost one quarter (23%) of the 537 referrals last year were young women.

Earlier, Redthread co-founder John Poyton said the charity now had bases in hospitals in London and the Midlands but they wanted to spread to units across the UK.

Its hospital-based approach began in 2005, ten years after the charity was established by parishioners at churches in Dulwich. 


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