London at risk
Serious youth violence has been steadily on the rise across the UK for the past few years, with East London being no different.
As an emergency department nurse at the Royal London Hospital in 2018, Ana Waddington saw the devastating effects of this violence first- hand. She was deeply troubled by the startling frequency of young people who arrived at the hospital and died from their injuries. Young people who could have been bought more vital time with some simple life-saving techniques whilst they waited for an ambulance. First responders (professionals who arrive first on the scene to deal with an emergency) an arrive quickly, but sometimes this isn’t fast enough.
Moreover, Ana noted a wide gap in life experience that often exists between patients who have experienced serious youth violence and healthcare staff. This can lead to an inability to fully understand and contextualise young people’s experiences.
She realised that young people needed a way to learn rapid and potentially life-saving first-aid skills, in a way that was practical, non-judgmental, and above all, safe.
The mission begins
YourStance was established to help eradicate needless deaths in East London. Their workshops drive open conversations, and share knowledge and skills between experienced healthcare professionals and young people at risk of serious youth violence.
To do this, YourStance is:
– Creating a network of ‘zero responders’, young people who can assess an emergency situation, administer CPR and bleed control care before first responders arrive.
– Improving compassion and empathy between medical professionals and youths at risk of violence.
– Inspiring young people to be proactive in their own communities and encouraging a new generation of NHS healthcare professionals from non-traditional backgrounds.
Young people in prisons have the highest rate of experience with serious youth violence. Evidence suggests that school exclusion is another major risk factor for young people becoming involved in violence. So YourStance take their workshops directly to young people in those settings, and work in partnership with relevant organisations to find and reach the right people.
“It’s fundamentally different to what we do in a day-to-day situation. Ultimately doing something like YourStance will make people better practitioners because it just adds that additional dimension that you’ve really got no other way of getting within our profession – this is a unique experience.”Medical Volunteer
Barts Charity supporting YourStance
In 2019, YourStance was able to take its initiative to the next level. The project received significant funding from Barts Charity thanks to a £30,000 gift from the Charles S French Charitable Trust. With this funding YourStance was able to acquire substantial equipment, promotional materials and vital admin time to increase their reach and impact.
“Barts Charity believed in this project. YourStance began as a self-funded idea with me and a mannequin, which then turned into a real possibility. Delivering this alone with a full-time job would have been unreasonable. Having people like our partners and their minds has been essential.”Ana Waddington, Paediatric Critical Care Outreach Nurse at the Royal London Hospital
YourStance making a difference
So, what impact has the project made since 2019? YourStance has been a major success since its inception. Over 2,000 young people have been taught across London in 83 workshops, surpassing the original aim of 600 people aged 12-25 in 3 years. And more than 350 healthcare professionals have joined YourStance as volunteers to share their knowledge and lifesaving skills with young people.
The workshops themselves have received highly positive feedback from YourStance’s target audience:
– 90% of young people felt better prepared to respond to emergencies.
– 87% of young people learned something which would have been useful to them in the past
– 87% of young people said they would recommend the project to a friend.
“I wish that I had known these skills before. Perhaps my brother would have survived his injury as the ambulance took too long to arrive.”Young person at Feltham Young Offenders Institute
Ana shared a particularly moving incident about a young person living in East London who participated in a YourStance workshop. Not long after the workshop, the young person was stabbed and was able to teach a friend lifesaving skills to keep them alive whilst waiting for the first responders. These skills ultimately helped saved their life.
With violent crime levels (in the capital) at their highest levels since records began, the need for programmes like YourStance is clear.
Looking to the future, YourStance wants to expand their reach through new partnerships, share their learnings with clinicians across the UK and hopefully recruit paid employees to help deliver more workshops.