St George’s held a special engagement event last week to introduce our staff and associated community professionals to Becky and Alex, two Redthread youth workers who have joined our emergency department (ED) team.

Hundreds of teenagers fall victim to gang-related violence every year and without intervention or effective support some become trapped in a cycle of violence. Redthread are leaders in a youth violence intervention program, working closely with ED staff across London to approach victims and provide the help they need to hopefully break that cycle.

Redthread have been embedding youth workers within the major trauma centre at King’s College Hospital since 2006, St Mary’s from October 2014 and the Royal London Hospital from April 2015. And now, as part of the Mayor’s initiative to better support those who fall victim to gang violence, they have started to focus their attention on establishing a partnership with St George’s.

Becky Calnan, senior youth worker will be based at St George’s full time, whilst Alex Melhuish will divide his time between our ED and Kings Hospital.

Their posts have been funded by the Mayor’s office, with their primary role being to work with 11-25 year olds who have presented with injuries secondary to violence or that are at risk of being involved in violence or sexual exploitation. They will be based in the ED but they will also engage with young people on both the paediatric and adult wards.

Dr Rhys Beynon, St George’s ED consultant said: “I am so excited that St George’s hospital has been given the opportunity to work with Redthread.

“Young people that present to hospital are often misunderstood by healthcare professionals. We often don’t understand the issues that they perceive to be important to them. Having youth workers in the department, will give these young people the opportunity to communicate and relate to a member of the team who can act as an advocate for them.

“This additional support will be invaluable to these young people. Not only will they provide support whilst in hospital, but they will also offer signposting to other services, and have the facility to follow these young people up in the community too.”

Becky Calnan, Redthread senior youth worker said: “I am delighted to be implementing Redthread’s Youth Violence Intervention Project at St George’s Hospital and it has been such a joy to be met with such enthusiasm from the staff here.

“Youth violence is a public health issue, manifesting itself in many ways and thus affecting a vast number of children, families and communities. By enabling Redthread to join St George’s Hospital, the Trust has demonstrated its commitment to provide the most effective and accessible care to the communities that it serves.

“We are so thrilled to now be embedded in each of London’s four Major Trauma Centres; St George’s participation has gone a long way to helping us realise our vision for each and every young person presenting to A&E with such injury or risk to have access to the youth worker intervention.”

Photo shows (from left to right) Alex Melhuish, Redthread youth worker, John Poyton, Redthread chief executive, Becky Calnan, Redthread senior youth worker and Dr Rhys Beynon, ED consultant at St George’s.