New scheme to keep young people on the right track in Manchester

  • Thursday 7 March 2024

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Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE

An innovative scheme that uses one-to-one bespoke support to help transform the lives of vulnerable young people caught up in or at risk of crime and steer them towards the right track, is coming to Manchester.

The city council is teaming up with national charity SHiFT and Greater Manchester's Violence Reduction Unit to provide intensive bespoke support to a small group of young people in the city, with the aim of breaking the destructive cycle of crime that sees them caught up in situations they can't control or remove themselves from.

Work has already taken place to identify a group of 27 children and young people who professionals believe are at risk of escalating involvement in offending, without the intensive package of support that SHiFT will provide through its Breaking Cycles programme.

The programme aims to break the negative cycle of involvement in crime by providing one-to-one support that is tailored to and unique to each young person and their own needs.  

What marks SHiFT out from other support programmes is that crucially this bespoke and flexible package of support is led by just one adult professional, who works with the young person and everyone important in their lives in a way that is flexible, persistent and focused on their unique needs - as opposed to the young person being supported by a sometimes large network of ever-changing professionals.

Each young person on the programme is allocated their own personal SHiFT Guide - an adult professional who aims to be a constant in the young person's life, someone who will walk with and alongside them to help them successfully navigate all aspects of their life.

The benefits to the young person are many - from giving them a known trusted adult who is focused entirely on their best interests and helping them overcome any difficulties or issues that arise, to providing them through their support with the tools they need to go on and have happy, successful and fulfilling lives.

At the same time it's also estimated that in diverting children and young people away from involvement in offending, SHiFT practices deliver huge cost savings for the taxpayer - of up to £2.5million per child by the time they reach the age of 40.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council, said: "The benefits of the SHiFT programme for young people are considerable - effectively giving them access at all times to someone they know is in their corner and has their back.  Someone they know is going to be proactive in ensuring the right support is in place for them at the right time. 

"Having this bespoke help will without doubt transform the lives of these young people and in turn the lives of their families and local communities.

"We're determined to do whatever it takes to help all children and young people in the city go on to be the best version of themselves and to lead fulfilling, happy and successful lives. Meeting the needs of our most vulnerable young people is an important part of this and an important part also of our journey towards becoming a UNESCO recognised Child-Friendly City."

SHiFT's Breaking Cycles was first trialled in the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Kingston & Richmond where it has delivered a marked improvement in outcomes for the young people involved.  There have also been improvements in the quality of practice by professionals involved with young people, with practitioners able to work more intensively and creatively with children who have more complex support needs.

Josh MacAlister OBE, Co-founder and trustee of SHiFT, said: “Too often, approaches to children in conflict with the law focus solely on risk, at the expense of strengths and aspiration, and are delivered as short term and piecemeal interventions by a large network of frequently changing professionals. 

"SHiFT turns this on its head, showcasing the power of fewer, deeper professional relationships - an approach that is already making a difference for children in Manchester. 

"We're delighted to be working with the city council with ongoing support from the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit, and we’re determined to go further, together.”

SHiFT's launch in Manchester follows the charity's collaboration with Tameside Council and the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit - the first area outside of London to partner with the charity -  which saw SHiFT Tameside launched in December 2022.

Since then the area has seen reductions in the number of young people involved in committing offences and going missing, as well as improved school attendance.

Funded by partners including the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit and SHiFT donors along with the city council, the two-year SHiFT Manchester project will be targeted at avoiding children and young people being remanded into custody.

Kate Green, Greater Manchester's Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “SHiFT supports some of our most vulnerable young people in diverting them away from crime and violence. Providing young people with positive opportunities for their future is key if we are to reduce violence and that is a vital part of the SHiFT programme.

“SHiFT is one of many initiatives we are supporting across Greater Manchester to prevent and reduce violence as part of our new 10-year ‘Greater than Violence’ strategy.

“I look forward to seeing the continued success of the programme in Tameside and the roll out in Manchester.”

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