Queen’s Young Leaders visit St Mary’s gang violence intervention project

On Friday 26 June, St Mary’s Hospital welcomed six influential young people from across the globe to learn about the hospital’s unique approach to tackling gang violence.

Queen's Young Leaders visitThe young leaders have travelled from throughout the Commonwealth to Buckingham Palace to be awarded by the Queen and to learn from community projects that are having a significant impact in the UK.

Khairunnisa Ash’ari from Brunei Darussalam, Alice Wallace from Bahamas, Alain Nteff from Cameroon, Melissa Kargiannakis from Canada, Teocah Dove from Trinidad and Tobago, and Caren Nelima Odanga from Kenya visited St Mary’s A&E.

The visitors saw at first hand the journey a young person would take in hospital after a serious violent incident, like a stabbing or shooting, and met those who provide care for these patients. Starting in ‘resus’ in A&E, where a patient in a critical condition would be stabilised, through assessment and surgery, to the wards where a patient would recover.

The youth violence intervention project brings specialist youth workers from Redthread, an organisation that has over nine years’ experience helping children and young people change their lifestyles, into the major trauma centre at St Mary’s Hospital to connect with the victims and perpetrators of violence.

The young leaders met the youth workers from Redthread and heard about how working in hospital allows them to connect with hard to reach youth.

Engaging with young people involved in dangerous behaviour when they are most vulnerable, for example, while being treated after being assaulted, provides a critical opportunity. It is an invaluable chance to enable these individuals to make positive steps away from their current lifestyles. Once a relationship has been built, the youth worker team will work with local partners to offer a variety of on-going support based on the varied needs of young people.

The youth violence intervention project is the result of a partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (which St Mary’s Hospital is part of), Redthread and Imperial College Healthcare Charity which has helped partners and funders work together to make the initiative possible. It is joint-funded by Imperial College Healthcare Charity, the Home Office, the boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster, MOPAC, The NWL Major Trauma Network and Comic Relief. Queen's Young Leaders visit 2

The major trauma centre at St Mary’s Hospital is uniquely positioned to access and help change the lives of those involved in youth violence. As one of four centres of its kind in London, the centre receives over 2,500 major trauma calls every year.

The major trauma centre comprises specialist teams and individuals from over a dozen departments and specialities including the emergency department, critical care and neurosurgery who come together each day to save the lives of people not only affected by youth or gang-related violence, but also trauma caused by road traffic incidents and serious accidents. The centre provides a 24-hour consultant-led service for both adults and children and has some of the top survival scores in the country. According to a recent peer review, the centre has two to three additional survivors per 100 patients treated to the national average.

In 2012/13, 498 of 2500 patients at St Mary’s major trauma centre were aged 11 to 25, the targeted age range for the project. More than one third of these youths were injured as a result of stabbings, gunshot wounds or wounds inflicted by blunt instruments. In addition, there are hundreds of young people brought to the emergency department who may not be as severely injured physically but are victims of serious youth related sexual violence and exploitation. Other young people may have mental health issues which may have contributed to physical injury, for example through self-harm. By integrating social support into these patients’ care, it is hoped the service will provide a more long-term and holistic solution to the violence they have encountered.

Dr Asif Rahman, consultant in adult and paediatric emergency medicine at the Trust, said:

In 2013 we were seeing about 11 serious stabbings and one gunshot wound each month and it really kick-started that we needed to do something about it. The youth violence intervention project is about building a bridge from the hospital into the community, so that when these young people leave the hospital, they stick with these programmes and hopefully don’t come back"

Alice Wallace, winner of the Queen’s Young Leader Award from Bahamas said: “As a women’s rights activist and public educator, my visit to the Redthread initiative at St Mary’s Hospital has been inspiring and thought-provoking. I can go home and develop a similar model connecting social services and health services for the benefit of our youth.”

Queen's Young Leaders visit 3Teocah Dove, winner of the Queen’s Young Leader Award from Trinidad and Tobago added: “The visit has given me the knowledge to submit a policy recommendation to my government to implement the same approach to deal with the youth violence in Trinidad.”

The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was developed by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society.

For more information please contact the press office.