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CEO Message 2008

2008 was a year of solid progress for WAVE, during which we built on a number of the breakthroughs in 2007. During that year we saw our ideas being adopted by major political parties, in both England and Scotland; our work was recognised (and described as ‘inspiring’) by the World Health Organisation; and a number of our policy recommendations began to be put into practice – for example the Family Nurse Partnership in England and Wales and the Early Intervention City Project in Nottingham. 

Follow up to conference ‘Working together to reduce serious youth violence’

A significant part of our work in the first half of the year was producing a report with detailed recommendations summarizing the findings of the conference we ran in November 2007 on serious youth violence. This had brought together 300 police, school heads and members of the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships of the 33 London boroughs, together with academic expert speakers. A report on the conference, containing 45 recommendations for action, and proposed next steps to implement them, was produced by WAVE in April 2008. This report received numerous commendations from senior officers in the Metropolitan Police and other policy influencers, from 10 Downing Street to CEO of a major London Borough, who circulated copies to all his senior managers.  

Cross-party booklet on Early Intervention

In early 2008 the Centre for Social Justice, the Smith Institute, the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP (former Conservative Party leader) and Graham Allan (Labour MP for Nottingham North and Chair of One Nottingham) requested WAVE’s help to produce a booklet setting out the case for early intervention to protect children from harm and to call for cross-party support for this to be given priority in future government funding at both national and local levels. This became a major project in which the bulk of the research and drafting of the document was carried out by WAVE and in particular by Ita Walsh in a largely unfunded project, though with some very welcome retrospective support from the Man Group.  

The eventual output was the booklet Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens, published in September. The booklet, which received the written backing of the leaders of the three main UK political parties Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, recognised WAVE’s essential contribution to its production. In an early intervention finance debate in the House of Commons on 13th January 2009, Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, described the booklet as follows: ‘It is the most important report, official or unofficial, produced in Parliament since I became a member 30 years ago.’.  

Family Nurse Partnership

During 2008 the first year evaluation was completed of the Family Nurse Partnership, the intensive home-visiting programme, targeted at ‘at risk’ families, which WAVE has been instrumental in bringing to the UK. This evaluation has been very positive, with the programme viewed very favourably by both parents and nurses and with strong initial indicators of health benefits for the children. There are now 30 pilot studies running in the UK, benefiting some 3,000 families. Under its American name, Nurse Family Partnership, this has been one of four top programmes recommended by WAVE for implementation.  

Roots of Empathy

Another of WAVE’s top four recommendations has been the Canadian school-based parent training programme, Roots of Empathy. Our research identified this Canadian programme (now also delivered in the USA, Australia and New Zealand) as the most successful format for teaching parenting to school children of all ages. Through the medium of a local family with a baby whose development is tracked by the school children, it not only imparts the importance of empathy and the crucial skills of how to attune with a baby, it results in reduced bullying wherever it is delivered. In September 2008, as a direct result of WAVE’s work, Roots of Empathy (RoE) was adopted in the Isle of Man – the first RoE site in Europe – where it is being rolled out to every primary school over a 3-year period. Our CEO, George Hosking, was invited to Douglas, Isle of Man, as guest of honour for the project launch.  

Pilot City Project

In the 2005 WAVE Report we recommended that the government select one UK city in which to pilot a range of interlocking WAVE recommended interventions and to measure their cumulative effect. After submissions by WAVE to then UK Home Secretary John Reid, set up by Nottingham MP Graham Allen, Nottingham was selected and the pilot city project was launched in Nottingham in 2008. Unfortunately from WAVE’s point of view local city pressure in mid-2008 led to a less than optimum selection of individual intervention programmes, however the experiment is still of great interest. There is a possibility in 2009 of the experiment returning to its original intended format.  

Contributing to the evolution of public policy

During 2008 WAVE was invited to contribute to public policy development through a number of government departments and initiatives. Several meetings took place with senior civil servants in the Department of Health and the Home Office; we contributed to the Home Office T-GAP Tackling Gangs project; we played an active role in the London Five Boroughs Alliance; we made significant contributions to the Metropolitan Police’s Youth Crime Action Plan (WAVE is mentioned as a reference point for local authorities to turn to for implementation guidance, in the  Plan’s ‘How To’ guide.); the Metropolitan Police Association (MPA) invited us to make submissions to their Youth Scrutiny project; we contributed to Scottish government thinking on early intervention policies (one Scottish government policy document refers to WAVE 17 times); we set up an early intervention policy discussion group for Strathclyde Police; we were invited to make a submission to the DCSF’s primary school curriculum review; we made a presentation to the DCSF on our primary prevention strategy proposals; and we made a presentation in 10 Downing Street at a reception hosted by Sarah Brown.  

Contributions to evolving political ideas

In addition to our contributions to governmental and semi-governmental bodies, WAVE was active in contributing to the policy thinking of various political and research organisations.  

At the invitation of the Centre for Social Justice, a right-wing Think Tank, WAVE made submissions to their policy study groups on Early Years Prevention; Children in Care; Youth Violence and Gangs; and Prisons. The Smith Institute, a left-wing Think Tank, asked WAVE to contribute an article on ‘Intervening early with children at risk’ to their booklet ‘Routes in and out of criminal justice’, and also sought our participation in a number of their policy debates. 

At the invitation of Rt Hon Hilary Armstrong MP, WAVE put forward proposals for Early Years policies to be included in the draft Labour Party Manifesto for the next General Election. WAVE made a presentation to Dominic Grieve MP, Shadow Home Secretary, recommending policies for tackling violence; and at the invitation of the Liberal Democrat party, George Hosking spoke on ‘Violence and social development’ at their Annual Conference in Bournemouth.  

During the year Boris Johnson invited our CEO George Hosking to make a presentation to him and his senior policy team on ideas for tackling violent crime. One particular WAVE idea, for secure colleges, was adopted (though not in quite the way we proposed) as Project Daedalus in the Mayor’s subsequent ‘Time for Action’ policy proposals. 

Local Authority Prevention Policies

During 2007 we received a challenge from Matthew Cavanagh, Chief Policy Adviser on Home Affairs to Gordon Brown: ‘Given that we buy in to your strategic message of early intervention, how precisely would we implement it on the ground?’ During 2008 we investigated this issue in depth, including conducting a detailed study of a Primary Prevention Strategy in partnership with a London Borough. The plans developed have been widely commended as significantly ahead of current thinking, both within and outside Government. The London Borough described our work as ‘of extremely high quality… instrumental in challenging [their] thinking about prevention and early intervention… and is informing future planning… to drive better outcomes for children and families’. 

During 2009 we hope that the ideas developed can be more extensively implemented at local level across a wider range of authorities. 

Research work and educational work

WAVE’s ongoing research continued during the year, partly funded by the Man Group, partly by pro bono contributions from our key personnel. Of particular note this year was our focus on the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence and parental separation, and the work of Dr Vincent Felitti in California, showing the association between ACEs and an extensive range of physical and mental health problems in later life. This research, together with work by Perry and Teicher on the impact of ACEs on the infant brain, and by Alan Sinclair on their impact on life-long ability to work, earn a living and make a financial contribution to society, demonstrates that early prevention policies will not only reduce violence but also improve education, wealth generation and public health. 

WAVE continued its early prevention education work during the year. One route for this was presentations to schoolchildren, in a project funded by the Thomas ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust, and we also made frequent presentations to audiences of professionals and policy makers. During 2008 WAVE presentations were made in Arbroath, Belfast, Bournemouth, Brighton, Coventry, Croydon, Edinburgh, Exeter, Falkirk, Islay, Isle of Man, Leatherhead, Lewisham, London (several), Perth, Tower Hamlets (several), Usk, Westminster (several) and Winchester. Feedback from these presentations continues to be exceptionally positive and appreciative (see WAVE web site for detail). 

Strategy/Business Plan

During September 2008 WAVE Officers, Trustees and Council members held meetings to discuss our strategy over the next 5 years, in a process led (on a pro bono basis) by an external consultant, Basil Towers. The development of the ensuing Business Plan has been one of WAVE’s major tasks since. The Plan outlines ambitious targets – of which more in next year’s report. 

An End to Violence Programme for Young People

During the year WAVE received part-funding from the Safer London Foundation to run a pilot group, community version of our successful one-to-one therapeutic prison programme with a group of London teenagers who had been convicted of violent offences. Participants were court-mandated to attend, but no penalty was imposed when they failed to do so. Consequently we had ongoing problems of engagement and attendance. The pilot programme was a source of much valuable learning, and significant reductions in anger levels were achieved with those teenagers who engaged with the programme. In 2009 we will be running a group prison programme for violent offenders aged 19-22 in a Surrey prison. This project is also funded by the Safer London Foundation. 

Disappointments

From 2006 until mid 2008 WAVE worked very closely with both Strathclyde and Metropolitan Police forces.  Senior police officers played a major part in bringing WAVE’s research and policy recommendations to the attention of policy makers on both sides of the border, and contributed greatly to WAVE’s success. 

The Scottish work was carried out by WAVE on a ‘pro bono’ basis and has sadly ceased as this can no longer be sustained. 

Our work with the Metropolitan Police reached a peak in late 2007 and early 2008 with the conference on serious youth violence referred to above, and our subsequent report and policy recommendations. We were told in both late 2007 and again in early 2008 that the Met Police wanted us to play a major part in carrying forward these policy recommendations within London boroughs, and that £120,000 of funding had been earmarked for us to do so. 

Unfortunately a series of personnel changes in the Met led to a delay in providing us with the finance, and then in mid-2008 we were told that our work should be carried out, but under the umbrella of the ‘London Councils’, an organisation which co-ordinates the needs of the 33 London boroughs.  

Since June 2008 no progress has been made with our project, no decision has been made by the Met about our funding, and no invitation has been forthcoming from London Councils for the conference work to be progressed. While we understand the personnel changes at the Met which have contributed to this hiatus, it does seem to us like a major lost opportunity, and one which has had some considerable negative consequences on the charity. 

Another disappointment of 2008 has been that lack of resource has required us to focus solely on activities in the UK, despite numerous invitations to carry our message to the USA in co-operation with a number of organisations across the Atlantic, and from WHO to play a more active role in their global Violence Prevention Alliance, of which we are a part.  

WAVE Fund-raising

WAVE’s work in 2008 has been strongly sustained by core funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, an anonymous donor, via New Philanthropy Capital and Sir Mike Heron. In addition, we have received support from the City Bridge Trust towards rent costs. 

We would also like to acknowledge the support for our important project work from Erach and Roshan Sadri Foundation, Man Group plc Charitable Trust, Mercers Charitable Foundation, the Metropolitan Police, Pillars of Parenting, Safer London Foundation the Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust and William A Cadbury Charitable Trust. There were also ongoing contributions from Cameron Consultants and a number of individual members of WAVE who give generously on a monthly basis.