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For the past four years the VVU has helped fund youth workers working in Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital (BTUH) Accident and Emergency Department.

Since May 2019, youth workers have been based in the A&E department at BTUH with the hope that when a young person is admitted to A&E the youth workers can offer support to these young people at what is known as a “teachable moment.” This teachable moment is a specific experience or event that presents as a opportunity to learn something.

The youth workers are there to offer support to young people presenting with a range of vulnerabilities, including those subject to violence.

In 2022 / 23 youth workers met with 189 young people in A&E. Out of these 189 young people, 162 (86%) presented with mental health, 13 (7%) illness and 14 (7%) with injuries.

After this initial meeting the young people are then supported, if they choose to be, through various means. This can include specific targeted interventions, relationship building and mentoring sessions with the youth workers. They also have the knowledge to signpost and support the young people to access a wide range of specialist provision, including things like LGBTQ+ projects, autism diagnosis, travel training, young carers support and youth centre attendance.

On discharge from hospital the young people are invited to attend Nexus, a youth group attached to the project that they can attend on a voluntary basis for extra support and to make positive connections and friendships.

The project has seen some really positive outcomes including a reduction of self-harm from the young people involved, some are able to manage their anxiety better and therefore have been able to start college or social activities. Friendships have been formed at the Nexus youth group with the young people supporting each other with life skills such as cooking and organisational skills and personal social skills like improved confidence.

The project has been widely praised by the young people and the A&E staff. The youth workers say how privileged they feel to be able to support young people to have more positive life experiences and receive the support they deserve to build their resilience and take forward into their future.