Young Londoners are at the heart of everything we do at Safer London. They are the reason we exist. We are fully committed to ensuring they shape everything we do – from our services and support to our internal processes. And that’s exactly what the Safer London young Londoner VIPs have been doing.

Last year we brought in a new cohort of young Londoners to sit within our voice, influence and participation young champion group. Known as the VIPs, they first came together at a bootcamp in August where they discussed what it meant to be a youth voice champion and how their voices and experiences are vital to shaping what we do.

Participation People’s Charly has been supporting our participation work, including facilitating the Bootcamp and BIG takeover week.

After settling into their new roles their first big task was taking our big business challenges head on. Across one week in October 2022, we brought our team and the VIPs together for Safer London’s first BIG takeover week. It was an opportunity for us to bring youth voice into our decision making around core areas of our work.

Youth voice experts Participation People have been supporting our participation journey and led on the planning and facilitation of the takeover week, as well as support our ongoing VIP programme. The takeover week resulted in lots of actions which are set out in Participation People’s takeover week

Both the Safer London team and the VIPs had lots of action to take away from the week. We made sure to capture them all on our actions wall.

These actions covered areas from our induction process to our service delivery and development. The takeover week was a big deal for us, and we wanted to make sure that we were held accountable on these actions. So, in February 2023 we set a date to bring our teams and the VIPs back together so we could update them on where we had gotten to.

Our core areas of focus – what we’ve done and what we’re doing next  

Digital media and communications

During the VIP week we proposed the idea of creating an online youth hub to the VIPs. We wanted to understand what young Londoners needed and wanted from an online space where they could go to find resources, advice and support. Based on discussions the team brought a first draft of a youth focused microsite to the VIPs to get their feedback.

During the week we committed to embedding youth recognition into our existing channels. We updated our website to reflect our VIP work and produced content around the VIPs activities.

What’s next:

We’ve still got a way to go in this. Over the coming months we look to further develop content for the microsite, alongside the VIPs. We hope to launch in Summer – so keep your eyes peeled!

Recruitment and induction

We want to make sure we are recruiting the best people into the Safer London team, and we want the VIPs to be part of this vetting process. To start the VIPs were involved in the recruitment process for an external researcher who will support Safer London on a project. The applicants spent 30 minutes with the VIPs as part of the interview process. The VIPs set them a task and marked them against criteria which they decided on in advance.

We also want to make sure that everyone who comes through the door understands the important role of the VIPs right form the get go. So, the VIPs have been working on a short video presentation, promoting the VIP work to our case workers, with the aim of recruiting more VIP members.

What’s next:

Our priority going forward will be looking at how we can involve the VIPs in our staff recruitment processes, whether this be them sitting on panels, feeding into interview questions or assisting with shortlisting. We recognise this is a challenge, but we’re up to the task!

Service Delivery

We want to make sure our service delivery is what young Londoners needed and wanted. Back in October 2022 the VIPs developed a youth charter. This charter will guide us when looking at our resources, ensuring that they are youth friendly.

What’s next:

We want to make sure our services are accessible for the young Londoners who need them. Therefore, we’ll be looking to develop a youth friendly referral pathway into our services. The VIPs will play a central role in the development of this.

Peers and Places

Adopting Contextual Safeguarding approaches is a key priority for Safer London. We dedicated a full day in takeover week to discuss peers and places with the VIPs, with the aim of getting an understanding of what these mean to young Londoners.

Since then, we’ve hosted a workshop with the VIPs to discuss our peer group intervention work. Collaboratively we looked at how the model might work, including what autonomy the young Londoners involved should have and how we can communicate key information to them.

What’s next:

Next up we want to bring the VIPs together to feed into what is our developing place-based intervention work. Like our peer group interventions, we want to know what role young Londoners should play in this innovative approach to working with communities and the places and spaces young Londoners spend their time.

Service Development

Making sure young Londoners play a role in the development of new services is a priority for us. We’ve been taking the steps to ensure they are included in the conversations at the very first step, having already linked the VIPs up with the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime to discuss what services in London should look like.

What’s next:

During our catch up in February we asked the best way for them to regularly feed into and engage with our service development. The VIPs indicated that workshops like the one they did with the Mayor’s Office would be good – although they did say they needed more time! They also expressed surveys would be an effective way to get quick responses.

Over the coming months we’ll be looking to see how we can incorporate both methods in our development work.

An early mock-up of what the new Safer London youth focussed microsite could look like

The future

We’ve made some strides over the past six months – but there is still a way to go! The next year will be an exciting one, where we will continue to develop and nurture the Safer London VIPs so these young champions can go on to become future leaders.

We’re excited to see what happens next!