Northwick Park’s A&E department is employing specialist caseworkers to help steer young people away from crime and gang culture.
The hospital has teamed up with St Giles Trust to run the 18-month pilot, which is funded by Brent Council.
Two caseworkers are working alongside doctors and nurses to identify vulnerable 12-25 year-olds and provide guidance and support.
A&E consultant Lauren Fraser said: “We recognised a gap in service provision for young people coming through the door that were victims of youth violence.
“They would come in, get treated and leave and there was nothing else we could do. It was frustrating so it’s great to have this in-house support.”
Specialist caseworker Tamecka Lumsden reflects the trust’s ethos of employing people who use their expertise and lived experience of issues they are supporting others with.
The mother of two said: “I fell in with the wrong crowd when I was young, had my first child at 16 and served several prison sentences. I had little education and thought criminal activity was the only way I could get what I wanted because I had no money.
“My story is no different from many others. I didn’t have anyone within a professional capacity looking out for me and showing me that there was a better way of living.”
Tamecka and her colleague Anthony Gordon meet patients after clinical staff have treated them and asked whether they would like to access the service.
It isn’t always straightforward.
Tamecka added: “A lot of these young people feel let down by authority figures and are very angry. I’ve had people shouting at me and telling me to push off but you have to see past that.
“There was no support when I left jail so I just started doing free courses to improve myself and worked through a succession of jobs until I became a youth worker.”
“We show people there is a way to build a better future – for themselves and those they care about – and help them create this through support, advice and training.
“We raise awareness of their situation and fight their corner to ensure long term changes are put in place. This is done by getting young people to think about consequences and actions through one-to-one mentoring, advocacy and sign-posting to other support agencies, such as housing, alcohol and drug support, education, training and employment.”
“It’s funny to think that all those bad personal experiences I had are now being used to positively help other young people.”