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7th February 2019

Save one life, you change the world

Jo Broadwood, CEO, looks back over her five years at StreetDoctors.

It has been a privilege to serve as StreetDoctors CEO for the last five years. In that time we have gone from 6 teams in 5 cities to a UK wide organisation of 20 teams in 16 cities. Last year we equipped 4039 young people with emergency lifesaving skills and the confidence to use them. StreetDoctors sessions have proved to be life-changing and lifesaving; we know of 18 cases of a young person acting to help someone else who was injured. Many more have passed their new skills onto friends and family.

The passion and sheer dedication of StreetDoctors young healthcare volunteers has been a source of constant inspiration to me. Thank you for the countless hours you give; running your teams, delivering sessions, fundraising, gathering data and supporting each other. The words you use to describe StreetDoctors are ‘family’, ‘community’, ‘tribe’ and it speaks to the reciprocal nature of volunteering, and your sense of belonging to a social movement and a larger cause. I have learnt so much from you all; with young people like you in the world there is hope for the future.

I am hugely grateful to the wider StreetDoctors community made up of an incredible array of subject specialists and experts and including StreetDoctors board of Trustees. You give your time for free, sharing your expertise and knowledge to support our volunteers, and to develop our organisational capacity so that we can reach more young people. I want to especially thank those whose expertise comes from having been personally affected by violence. I have been so moved by your courage and generosity in sharing your stories; your experience fuels StreetDoctors determination to support all young people to live safer lives.

Thanks also to delivery partners, funders, other organisations and colleagues in the sector for partnering with us. No one organisation can solve this issue operating alone; it is only through collaboration that we can hope to shift the narrative from a narrow focus on criminal justice towards a multi-agency community led approach that centres the voices and lived experience of young people themselves.

Finally I want to thank StreetDoctors brilliant central support staff who combine a commitment to excellence with an enormous sense of fun which has made each working day a pleasure.

As I write this dusk is falling. Somewhere close by almost certainly a young person will be in danger of losing their life tonight, such is the increase in youth violence in recent years. In one of the richest countries in the world this is simply unacceptable.

StreetDoctors volunteers are making the difference between a young person carrying a weapon or not; between them hurting someone or walking away; between them helping someone or leaving them to bleed out in the street.

‘Save one life, you change the world’. The words of Junior Smart at StreetDoctors conference in 2015 continue to resonate with me. Save one life you change the world…. Because not only do you change that young person’s world, but you also change their mothers’ world, their father’s world, their siblings, aunties, cousins, friends, neighbours, and the whole community.

Violence and cohesion are inextricably related. Violence breaks down neighbourhood trust and resilience, and young people have a vital role to play in building a more peaceful, integrated and inclusive society. As I move on from StreetDoctors to help set up the new Cohesion and Integration Network I will continue to champion StreetDoctors work as a social movement of young people changing and saving lives, and the vital role that young people can play in building safer, healthier and happier communities.

Jo Broadwood, CEO StreetDoctors (2014-2019)