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Merseyside Pupils empowered to help prevent serious violence

3 weeks ago

Merseyside Pupils empowered to help prevent serious violence
Pupils from Calday Grange Grammar on the Mentors in Violence Prevention programme

Hundreds of young people from across Merseyside have completed vital training empowering them to help prevent gender-based violence, bullying, abuse, and other harmful behaviours that could lead to somebody becoming a victim of serious violence.

A special ceremony is taking place at Liverpool’s St George’s Hall today (Tuesday 25th June) to mark the ‘graduation’ of 463 pupils from 24 secondary schools across Merseyside. 

The young people are the latest cohort to complete the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme, helping them to recognise and challenge the attitudes and language which often underpins violence, particularly racist, misogynist, and homophobic behaviour, by adopting a mentoring approach to discuss issues with younger pupils.

Funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), the Mentors in Violence Prevention programme is delivered by Merseyside Youth Association and supports a ‘whole school’ approach, encouraging young people to become active bystanders and intervene to help prevent bullying, harassment, and risky behaviours.

The programme empowers pupils to identify and communicate concerns with both their peers and school staff, promoting leadership skills and motivating them to challenge behaviours in a safe way, whilst encouraging others to do the same.

Through a series of practical workshops, the scheme gives older pupils a platform to discuss a range of situations and behaviours which many young people encounter in schools and communities on a regular basis whilst exploring how the language used in the mainstream media or on social media can impact how a victim may be perceived.

Upon completion of the course, the older pupils become Mentors in Violence Prevention and can use their knowledge to empower younger pupils to have better awareness around things like name-calling, sexting, controlling behaviour and harassment, equipping them to become active bystanders with the ability to support and challenge safely.

In total, the 463 ‘graduates’ will be empowered to support 4,054 mentees at their respective schools, taking the total number of secondary pupils across Merseyside trained to be mentors to 1,124, able to deliver to a total of 10,120 mentees. 

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: 

“It’s brilliant to hear we have another successful cohort of young people inspired to help change behaviours, mindsets, and attitudes.

“It is hard to talk about some of these difficult issues and challenge people’s beliefs and ideas, that can be even harder if those people are your friends, but the Mentors in Violence Prevention scheme gives practical advice on how to do those things safely.

“Words are powerful and sadly, all too often, they are used as weapons, so these young people should be proud of the work they are doing to help others realise the impact their behaviours can have.

“These are tough topics that many adults struggle to talk about, so hearing how young people are breaking down the barriers around things like mental health, sexual violence and bullying is so encouraging. 

“I’d like to congratulate all the young people who have completed their Mentors in Violence training and thank the schools and their staff for committing to embed change across their entire school.

“This work is absolutely vital in my pledge to build a stronger and safer region for our young people to grow up in.”

Education Lead at the MVRP, Roger Thompson, said: 

“The Violence Reduction Partnership is all about preventing serious violence in the future before it happens. Mentors in Violence Prevention is a great example of early intervention, and the results are almost instantaneous as to how we can tackle and prevent negative and abusive attitudes that, if left unchallenged, can often act as a trigger for violence.

“On our behalf, Merseyside Youth Association delivers a compelling programme that empowers our young people to make their schools and communities healthier places to be, whilst ensuring a better understanding of the impacts of harmful words and behaviours. 

“The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership is proud to continue our funding of MVP, helping to give young people the opportunity to explore healthy and unhealthy relationships at a critical time in their lives and develop the skills and confidence to be proactive when identifying behaviour which is unacceptable and abusive”.

Damian Hart, Principal Development Manager of the RAISE Mental Health Promotion Team at MYA, said: 

“We’re proud to have delivered the MVP programme for the third year. It equips young people with the skills and confidence to speak out safely against bullying, violence, and abusive behaviour, empowering them to actively promote a positive culture and environment.

“The peer-to-peer delivery approach of The Mentors in Violence programme is integral to its success and impact.  It’s been wonderful to see staff and young people throughout the schools embracing the MVP principles as a whole school approach to mental health and preventing violence; impact studies show how it’s positively changed prosocial attitudes, schools reporting reduced exclusions and violent incidents.”

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