St Albans community partnership to address gang violence and mental health issues

St Albans council, led by Cllr Alec Campbell, is funding a community safety partnership to address g

St Albans council, led by Cllr Alec Campbell, is funding a community safety partnership to address gang crime and mental health issues. Picture: James Ward/St Albans council - Credit: Archant

A community partnership in St Albans has received funding to tackle gang crime and improve mental health services.

St Albans council and Herts Police are providing the funds to support anti-crime projects at several education centres in the district.

These will be run by the charity Growing Against Violence (GAV), which provides health and safety training and education for young people. GAV takes a public health approach to tackling violence, seeing it as a “disease that is preventable rather than inevitable”, and using listening and investigative techniques to identify risks and issues specific to local communities.

The decision to work with GAV was taken by the St Albans City and District Strategic Partnership, a group of agencies, businesses and organisations who work together to address local issues, in a meeting on Friday, March 15.

The partnership, which includes the council, Herts Police, Citizens Advice, the Cathedral and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, has also agreed a mental health action plan entitled All Minds St Albans.

This involves enabling people to get back to a healthy state before their difficulties escalate, making organisations more mental health-friendly, improving information which directs people to the support they need, and building widespread understanding of mental health through training, communication and public engagement.

The council will also ensure managers take mental health training to support their employees effectively, and will work with St Albans Chamber of Commerce to secure similar training opportunities are available for smaller businesses.

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Cllr Alec Campbell, council leader and portfolio holder for resources, said: “GAV has a track record in working with young people to reduce the appeal of violence and improving their confidence in the police. I am sure their work will be of great benefit to us.

“I’m also pleased with the way members of the partnership are looking at how to improve the support available to people with poor mental health.

“This joined-up, multi-agency approach to issues like mental health and knife crime shows the value of having a strategic partnership that can deliver real change in the District.”