In 2010 and 2011 BCP’s aims were to respond to evident needs in the Bells Hill area of the Underhill ward in Barnet. These needs included high levels of youth crime, a dearth of provision for young people and a lack of community cohesion.
Through weekly football sessions and community events, relationships were formed with local residents – through which grassroots solutions were created.
Partnerships were created with other community groups, churches, Safer Neighbourhood Teams and volunteers living in the area.
A mobile skatepark project (Switch) was added in response to a consultation with young people in Bells Hill. This is run as a social enterprise generating income through commercial hires, alongside sessions run in areas of need across the borough.
Weekly youth work sessions were added, run by qualified youth workers.
Additional projects were brought into BCP on a short term basis, to foster their growth and sustainability. These include mentoring projects for girls (Community Hearts) and boys (Community Souls).
Towards the end of 2011 and into 2012 BCP’s focus shifted to the Dollis Valley Estate.
We now operate out of an office based in the Rainbow Centre where we are developing a Community Hub from which we can provide support and evaluate its effectiveness.
BCP set up The Arc Café in the Rainbow Centre – staffing it through a combination of local volunteers and paid young adults.
Barnet is the largest London borough and one of the most ethnically diverse. According to the London poverty profile “the unemployment rate among young people is at its highest level for 20 years (23%) and is still rising”. Barnet is seeing high levels of economic inactivity and income inequality. A new definition of employment is needed as paid jobs are increasingly scarce.
The Dollis Valley Estate, based in Underhill ward, is the third most deprived area in Barnet. Recent assessment places the estate at the same level of deprivation as the Grahame Park Estate.
Data on deprivation, captured in the local development framework in 2012, shows that in 2010 the Dollis Valley Estate had an IMD in excess of 35, a significant deterioration since the previous assessment in 2008. Figures for the borough, or indeed the ward, tend to mask the extent of the deprivation on the estate.
The Dollis Valley Vision Statement which was adopted by Cabinet and issued on 21 February 2005 considered that “the estate had been in decline for a number of years”. It acknowledged consultation with residents and stakeholders which identified that the area was isolated from the surrounding neighbourhood with poor transport links, single vehicle access, low quality built environment and low quality local retail premises. These factors can create social exclusion, economic deprivation, low educational achievement and attainment and a fear of crime.
In 2011 the Barnet Council’s Residents’ Perception Survey indicated that 1 in 2 residents in Underhill feel fairly or very unsafe in the evenings.
28% of pupils at the local primary school – Underhill Junior – have free school meals. Ofsted also report that the proportion of pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities is above average and there are increasing numbers with complex learning or emotional difficulties. A third speak English as an additional language.
The Deprivation in Barnet document produced in 2010 shows that the Dollis Valley Estate is one of 20 most deprived SOAs in the borough. It has the highest level of education, skills and training deprivation in the borough. The IDACI for Dollis Valley Estate is 0.48, and the area is ranked 2885 in the country. The IDACI measures the proportion of children living in households dependent on benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions produced a report in 2011 showing that Underhill ward has greater proportions of lone parents and individuals who are long term benefit dependent.
The Dollis Valley Estate is looking forward to a period of physical regeneration to improve the housing stock and surrounding living environment. A period of consultation with residents is underway. In the meantime the buildings are falling into disrepair. The future for current residents in the newly designed Dollis Valley Estate is not yet clear.
The London disturbances in the summer of 2011 impacted on Barnet. 9 of the 12 Barnet residents convicted live on the Dollis Valley Estate. Overall figures for the disturbances show that 76% of those brought before the courts had previous convictions. 62% of them were juveniles. 26% were aged 10-17 years and a further 27% were aged 18-20 years. 66% of the 10-17 year olds had some form of special educational need. The Ministry of Justice said in their 2011 report – “Young people appearing before the courts came disproportionately from areas with high levels of income deprivation as defined by the IDACI rankings for 2010”
The Government’s Youth Crime Action Plan for 2008 indicates that 5% of young people are responsible for over 50% of youth crime. We can identify these young people on the estate and target them to address behaviours. We can also identify those at risk and tackle this through challenge and support programmes. The plan encourages communities to get more involved in how youth crime is tackled in their area. We publicise reparation work at the Rainbow Centre by young offenders e.g. building a patio, decorating the centre, assembling garden furniture. The plan also proposes to deter young people involved in criminal and anti-social behaviour by engaging them with street based teams of youth workers and ex-gang members. This is at the root of BCP’s youth provision.
The proportion of high rate youth offenders with different risk factors: 41% low socio-economic status, 38% ADHD diagnosis, 31% parent convicted, 30% low IQ, 30% mother has low IQ, 24% maltreatment. One of the key plans in the Youth Crime Action Plan is around strengthening the strategic response to youth crime at a local level.