Working together to address gang violence

On May 22nd 2013 over 80 professionals working to address gang involvement and its impact on young people and communities in Hackney got together to share their thoughts and to start to think about ways of collaborating to build better services.

We wanted young people's voices to inform the discussion in accordance with our deeply held belief that young people are the experts when it comes to their own lives. To inform the discussion Off Centre carried out a consultation exercise with 80 young people in Hackney and a number of professional agencies and organisations whose work brings them into contact with young people in gangs. Partners to the conference and major contributors to the report included City & Hackney Mind, Arsenal in the Community, Hackney Integrated Gangs Unit and Mediorite.

This report "Tackling gang violence: Listing to the experts" summarises the findings of the consultation and Off Centre's response and plans for future service development. It is very much a service improvement report but we recognise that Off Centre alone cannot meet evry young person's needs and we are not the only organisation that young people turn to for help. For this reason we make our findings available to anyone that wants to make use of them on the proviso that you acknowledge Off Centre and seek our permission if you wish to reproduce and distribute the report in any format.

Conference findings and how those agencies and organisations present aim to respond to the challenge of addressing gang involvement will be available here soon. Check back regularly for details.


For every £1 we receive, we generate almost £5.30 in community benefits

In 2012, with support from the Third Sector Research Council we commissioned a report looking into the social return created by Off Centre. Social return is a measurement of the value created by an organisation from each pound invested.

We commissioned the University of Bristol to carry out a Social Return on Investment (SROI). SROI is a widely accepted methodology for putting a value on social good ie the difference we make in the lives of the young people who use our services. The research involved widespread stakeholder analysis and examination of service outputs and outcomes.

Download the report

The result of the research gave a value of £5.29. For every £1 invested in Off Centre, there is a social reurn of £5.29

The concluding result of the research conducted by the University of Bristol is that "there is substantial social value in the operation of Off Centre as indicated by the strong SROI ratio. With the demand far exceeding the target and a large proportion discharged in the past year, it represents that Off Centre clearly have an efficacious business model and one that can only become more effective through further commissioning.

You would assume that further funding would allow for a reduction in the pipeline, with more individuals being treated as well as geographical out-reach improving, with Off Centre able to deliver to the wider community."

To download a copy of the full report click here



Tuesday 22/05/12

Hackney Dreaming

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9 out of 10 young people in Hackney believe they can change their lives for the better. 

This is one of the key findings of the research report entitled Hackney Dreaming, issued by Hackney youth charity Off Centre. The report looks at the aspirations of young people in Hackney and the barriers they feel they face.

Other key findings of the research were:

  • 90% of young people in Hackney feel that they exercise control over achieving their hopes and aspirations in the future
  • However, faced with a highly competitive jobs market, 60% of respondents express extreme concern about their ability to find employment
  • Only 25% feel the outlook for young people in Hackney will improve in the next year

While the research highlights young people’s readiness to take responsibility for their own futures, it also exposes the sense of demotivation they feel as a result of extreme job scarcity and a labour market which favours those with prior work experience under their belts.


But although young people in Hackney are optimistic about achieving success in the future, the research reveals that few of them have a long-term strategy for doing so. The professionals interviewed strongly emphasised the need to help young people understand that success is often achieved in stages, and that in order to overcome a prevailing culture of “instant gratification” there should be a concerted effort to persuade young people of the benefits of working towards a longer-term goal.


Young people recognise, however, that there is no lack of organisations to provide support, with 68% of respondents saying they had accessed support or guidance from their families, 55% from community/voluntary organisations and 52% from their school, college or university.


Martin Williams, Chief Executive of Off Centre, said:

“There is a growing body of evidence about what works in raising aspirations of individuals and communities. Services like Off Centre’s, that build and support young people’s self-esteem, that ensure young people have access to appropriate, timely and high quality advice and that offer diverse role models for young people under one roof, can make a real difference in mobilising young people to achieve their goals.  We call upon policy-makers and commissioners of services to make it happen for Hackney’s youth.”


When asked to list the positive characteristics of Hackney, discussion group participants were quick to point out that living in an ethnically diverse area expanded individuals’ horizons and developed greater understanding of other cultures – far more so than in other areas. It was also stated that Hackney, as a tight-knit community, offered support for young people outside the home and their immediate family.


Anne Keothavong, the British women’s tennis star, said:

“Having grown up in Hackney, it is fantastic to see that the community, schools and youth organisations are continuing to inspire so many young people in the borough to realise their ability to achieve their hopes and dreams.”


Former Paralympic athlete, world record holder, and six times Marathon winner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, DBE, a Hackney resident, added:

“With the right support networks in place, there’s no limit to what our young people can achieve.”


As summed up by one of the respondents:

“It is what you do with what you have… you can go along with the stereotype, oh I live in Hackney and so I’m not going to achieve anything or you can push above it and say I came from Hackney but I’m going to make something of myself…”


Concluding, Martin Williams stated:

“Hackney’s young people have proved themselves once again to be a remarkably resilient bunch. In the face of a perfect storm of rising youth unemployment, withdrawal of EMAS, rising tuition fees and all too often negative portrayals of youth in some sections of the media and elsewhere, they remain remarkably upbeat and optimistic. They have my utmost respect.


Click here to view Hackney Dreaming 

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