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We sat down with Tayler Tookey, our Hospital Navigator, to talk about our new Hospital Navigator Scheme and how we will support young people in Milton Keynes affected by serious violence and domestic abuse.

Q. Can you explain why the Hospital Navigator Scheme was established and who it will support?

A. The Hospital Navigator Scheme was originally established in Glasgow in 2014. It was in response to a spike in knife crime amongst youths. Following an increase in homicides amongst men under 25 years of age in Thames Valley, Thames Valley Police (TVP) followed suit and implemented the scheme in five hospitals across the region. The scheme will support people between the ages of 13-25 who are at risk of or have been involved in serious violence or domestic abuse.

Q. What are some of the factors that can lead to a young person becoming involved in gang crime or serious violence?

A. There are many contributing factors that could lead to someone being affected by serious violence. Homelessness, mental health issues, bullying, an unstable home environment, abusive relationships etc., are just some of the causes. Everyone’s experience is unique, which is why dedicated support in this area is so important. By supporting people on an one-to-one basis, we can look at how to best support each individual in consideration of their personal circumstances.

Q. What will you do in your role as Hospital Navigator?

A. The aim is to take advantage of the reachable moment when a young person is in the care of the hospital and is more likely to accept support. I will lead a team of Hospital Navigator Volunteers who will offer emotional and practical support to these young people with the offer to extend this into the community as a mentor/mentee relationship. Hospital Navigator Volunteers will tackle issues such as housing, unemployment, addiction and domestic violence to name a few.

Q. Can you tell us about the volunteers who have been recruited?

A. I have recruited a team of 11 volunteers who have demonstrated their commitment to supporting young, vulnerable people. Individuals have been selected based on their variety of skills and experience. The team is an even mix of gender, ethnicity and background in order to reflect the diversity of the young people they will be supporting. It’s really important to be able to build trust and rapport when supporting vulnerable people, so we have selected volunteers who have demonstrated the skills needed in order to do this.

Q. How will the Hospital Navigator Volunteers provide support within Milton Keynes Hospital?

A. All volunteers will attend induction training, which will cover topics including YMCA MK’s approach to working with young people, safeguarding and professional boundaries, an awareness of mental health issues, and an understanding of different types of abuse. Going forward, the volunteers will be offered further training on specific areas of need. These may be mental health awareness, speech and language training, and homelessness awareness training. Volunteers will be well equipped to provide the support needed to help young people at risk of violence through emotional mentoring or signposting and referring to other local agencies.

We have successfully run the first of two training days with our Hospital Navigator Volunteers, with the aim that they will be offering support in Milton Keynes Hospital A&E as of the start of August. For more information about the Hospital Navigator Scheme, click here.