This multiple award-winning service offers intensive support to vulnerable young people to help them in the criminal justice system and those at risk. It works with young people exposed to or at risk of violence, vulnerability and exploitation. The work encompasses gangs work and family suppport as well as child exploitation and human trafficking.
It offers a tailored package of support for each young person to help them identify and realise alternative aspirations and goals. It also works with young people at risk of getting involved in the criminal justice system. SOS aims to help make the communities in which it works a safer place for everyone. Gang crime in particular has consequences beyond those directly involved. By supporting those young people who are the benefits are considerable, including reductions in weapons crime and innocent victims.
“For me, this opportunity has helped change my mindframe and thinking. If I hadn’t had it, there is a possibility I might have gone back to my old lifestyle. It’s also had a benefit on my partner and three children. They know I’m coming home now.” - Verrell, former SOS client who progressed to become SOS Caseworker
Watch a film about the work of the SOS Project:
The project was founded and developed in 2006 by Junior Smart and borne out of his own direct experiences of involvement in crime and a 12 year prison sentence. The majority of caseworkers on SOS are trained, reformed ex-offenders with first-hand experience of the issues their clients are facing. The work of SOS is delivered through a smaller teams based across London each carrying out targeted work. SOS works in partnership with statutory agencies across London such as local authorities.
Work in partnership with The Royal London Hospital and Barts NHS Health Trust
Two SOS caseworkers embedded in the major trauma unit of Royal London Hospital who offer support to young people who are admitted as a result of serious youth violence and sexual violence. This work supports the young person on discharge and in the community to help them stay safe and reduce the likeliood of future admissions. The caseworkers work closely with the clinical team in the hospital. This is a partnership project with Redthread.
Prevention through SOS+
SOS+ offers preventative work with young people at risk of gang crime, with the aim of preventing them becoming caught up in this lifestyle. Ex-offender volunteers trained through St Giles Trust work with schools in London to inform students on the dangers of getting caught up in gang crime - particularly with regard to weapons – de-glamorise the lifestyle, challenge myths and raise awareness. It also aims to equip young people with knowledge and skills to stay safe. It can provide one-to-one support to young people identified as being at risk.
Expect Respect supports teenage girls and young women at risk of sexual exploitation, violence against women and girls and gang-related criminality. It runs female-only sessions on topics including sexual and domestic violence, healthy relationships and friendships, the consequences of offending, and how to access services in order to exit a gang. It can offer one-to-one support to vulnerable young women at risk to help them identify and work towards positive goals. Much of the work is around challenging negative stereotypes which exist amongst the girls’ peers and in wider culture, encouraging the young women to become powerful, supportive role models who can inspire each other. SOS also offers support where whole families are affected by gang activity to provide help to parents and siblings and minimise the impact of gangs on the rest of the family. Further information on this work and our Gamechangers project is available on our support for children and families page.