Navigators Andrew Miles and Katherine Cline.

Pioneering programme helps young people navigate away from violence

Around fifty children and young people, some as young as ten, have received a new kind of treatment in three Merseyside hospitals in 2022 – personal mentoring against violence.

Thanks to a bold project funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP), young people who arrive at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Aintree Hospital or the Royal Liverpool Hospital who are experiencing violence, or are at risk of violence, have been referred to specially trained Navigators. The injuries inflicted upon them included knife wounds, broken bones and lacerations caused during assaults.

Building-up a relationship with the young people, the small team of Navigators has intervened positively and sensitively in their lives, delivering:
• Confidence-building sessions
• Assistance with getting support from other agencies, including housing and mental health
• Action plans with schools and parents, (particularly useful if they have been bullied) and,
• Alternative activities for the young people, including sports and the arts

Best of all, the Navigators create meaningful relationships with their young people to help them rebuild their lives and become more resilient and self-sufficient.

“Whilst we might be quite comfortable with the idea of collaborating with police, health and social care services, some young people may feel let down by the adults they have encountered, leading to a lack of trust” said Detective Superintendent Siobhan Gainer, Head of the MVRP,

“They therefore view our Navigators as something entirely different, as confidants who may well have had the same life experience as them.”

Initial findings on the fledgling programme have shown that of those referred, 33 identified their gender as female and 126 as male. Forty-three received further support and engaged with services such as the Cells Project which specialises in rehabilitating young offenders, sports programmes run by Everton and Liverpool Football clubs and Merseyside Youth Association – who provide the Navigators working within the hospitals.

For Consultant Surgeon Nikhil Misra, the fact that 159 cases were reported to the Navigators was an indication of the willingness of NHS staff to use a programme especially designed to engage young people: “I feel this is the beginning of what will become the norm in hospitals and treatment centres” he said, “because it benefits the patient short and long-term. Firstly, it permits a crisis intervention to cope with the incident; and then it develops a longer-term strategy to ensure that everything is done to prevent injuries like this from happening, again. Fewer incidents means reduced spend on expensive emergency treatments and more importantly, a decrease in the number of heart-breaking acts of violence that occur.”

Liverpool Waterfront