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Press release

How did StreetDoctors provide a solution to violence in 2020 whilst navigating the impact of COVID-19?

3rd June 2021

Our 2020 Impact Report reveals young people’s experiences of COVID-19 & violence, and how our healthcare volunteers rose to the challenges to continue empowering young people.

2020 was a year like no other. The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for all young people, especially those vulnerable to violence. While Coronavirus dominated the headlines, we knew it was vitally important to keep connected with at risk young people. So, we spoke with them about the impact of violence on their lives, and the multitude of new challenges they faced.

Our 2020 Impact Report reveals that the pandemic made them feel very unsafe, and that they really struggled to cope. Despite restrictions, violence was still an everyday experience over this time, and for many young people carrying weapons was a necessity.

You need violence to protect yourself, if someone is trying to harm you, you use your violence to protect yourself from getting harmed

I don’t feel very safe because there have been stuff going on where I live, I’ve had people stabbed outside my flats.

I was anxious, at the start of lockdown my sleeping patterns were bad and I was having a lot of bad nightmares.

Like so many other organisations, COVID-19 transformed the services we provide. Despite the myriad of challenges, we witnessed hope, resilience, and creativity from young people, our partner organisations, and our young healthcare volunteers. Together we were able to rise above this hugely difficult time to continue delivering our vital Reducing Violence Programme.

In 2020:

With the support of our healthcare volunteers and a trauma informed psychotherapist we transitioned our programme to a fully digital offer. Our emergency first aid training can now be delivered live online by our volunteers, streamed into classrooms, youth settings, or to personal devices. Feedback has been fantastic, and we have maintained our vital impact on the lives of young people.

After a training session:

As we return to face-to-face delivery we will continue to utilise this digital model where it’s needed.

In response to restrictions, we also created a brand new comprehensive digital training programme for our 400 healthcare volunteer trainers. The programme enabled them to deliver our sessions to at-risk young people while maintaining the highest standards, and with a trauma-informed approach embedded in every interaction. 

In the Summer of 2020, we completed a socially-distanced StepWise cycle with Eastside Young Leaders Academy, where 24 young people became community lifesavers as part of an extended programme of learning.

I really enjoyed the programme. I learnt that not all heroes wear capes and even the tiniest actions could have a huge effect on how much time someone has on this earth. I want to thank StreetDoctors for this opportunity.

StepWise programme graduate

Putting young people at the centre of our work is extremely important to us, especially during a year where young people were often marginalised. Alongside young people we co-created online violence reduction campaigns, social media content and training content, whilst also highlighting their voices and experiences to influence for effective solutions to reducing violence. 

Our ambition to work together with our partners to reduce violence and create safer communities for young people across the UK never faltered, despite the challenges. This commitment continues to be at the heart of all we do.

Find out more about young people & violence and StreetDoctors impact