The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is supporting a South Yorkshire Police (SYP) week of action to tackle serious violence in Sheffield.

The week of action began on Friday 19th April, and runs until Saturday 27th April.

Working in partnership with organisations and communities, the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit aims to support people to work together to prevent and reduce violence.

The VRU takes a Public Health Approach to tackling violence, and aims to stop violence before it happens; provide early intervention and support when violent behaviour starts; and provide ways out for people already involved in violence.

Alongside its prevention work, the VRU looks more deeply at the causes of the causes of violence. This means working to understand and address the underlying factors and societal attitudes which create the conditions for violence to occur.

The VRU commissions and supports a number of programmes, including:

  • Custody Navigators, who intervene with detainees who have been arrested for violent crimes
  • Hospital Navigators, who meet patients who are brought to hospital with injuries from violent crimes
  • £323,433.03 of funding was awarded through the VRU’s 2023/24 grant round, the Violence Reduction Fund, which supported young people aged 4-25, providing positive role models, diversionary activities, and mental health support
  • A 2024/25 grant round recently opened for applications
  • Trauma-Informed Practice, supporting all organisations to raise awareness of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences, so that we can better support the people we serve. This work includes the development of an interactive Trauma Hotspot heatmap

Among the organisations supported through the VRU’s grant rounds is Young Women’s Housing Project.

Their aim is to provide interventions and support for young women and girls at risk of or affected by sexual abuse, domestic violence, and exploitation.

Their programmes include:

  • Escape the Trap, an accredited teenage relationship abuse programme, specifically designed to help young people recognise abuse and acquire prevention skills and strategies to protect themselves
  • Who’s in Charge, a Teenage Violence Against Parents programme, to support parents to manage conflict and reduce the potential for escalation and further harm
  • Parents As First Teachers, a parenting support programme for young parents with high risk factors
  • Accessible therapeutic support, including counselling and creative movement psychotherapy

Among those who benefit from their work are young women and girls at risk of or affected by sexual abuse, domestic violence, and exploitation; girls aged 10-19 years; teenage mothers and their children; and parents at risk of or experiencing violence/abuse from their children.

Graham Jones, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “The VRU is committed to working with partners across South Yorkshire to prevent and reduce violence, and our partnership with South Yorkshire Police is key to that work.

“During this week of action, alongside our usual work, the VRU will be taking part in joint visits and activities with South Yorkshire Police.

“Young Women’s Housing Project is one example of the numerous projects we fund and support across the city, with the aim of tackling violence and protecting vulnerable people.

“Alongside this, we are working with partners to develop and promote healthy attitudes, behaviours, and lifestyles.

“This forms part of our Public Health Approach, as we aim to not just tackle violence in the short term, but also to bring about sustainable long term change.”

Jo Meagher, Young Women’s Housing Project Director said: “The VRU support and funding over the past year has been invaluable for our service and our beneficiaries.

“They invest in building good working relationships with their funded community projects and their team are really conscious of the importance of bringing agencies together, and supporting them to make connections and practical operational links.

“This collaborative approach has helped us to make the best use of our resources to support young women who are victims of violence, adding to the creation of a coherent violence reduction programme for Sheffield.”

Comments from Young Women’s Housing Project service users:

“I feel more free, with the support worker, they make you feel loved and supported. I didn’t feel cared for [previously] but moving into the project and meeting my worker I feel loads better.”

“Life skills – it gives cooking classes, escape the trap (good for knowing you’re in abusive relationships, including friendships), and day to day life skills.”

“They do a course, escape the trap, and that’s really good. I learned a lot from that. Especially from doing that then going out into the real world again. I’ve learned how to be in a healthy relationship and learn the signs of an unhealthy one.”

“They’ve helped with my mental health – without my support worker, I wouldn’t have been diagnosed or had support.”

“Since moving into the project, I got better. My confidence has got so much better.”