Skip to content


Another chance – Diversion from the criminal justice system

New £20 million fund launched

Entry deadline:
14th May 2021

Read our FAQs .

Please note – this grant round has now closed for applications.

We have contacted all applicants to provide an update on the status of your application.


The Youth Endowment Fund exists to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. We do this by finding out what works and building a movement to put this knowledge into practice.

We know that sometimes, children need another chance: alternatives to arrest, conviction and custody.

Diversion programmes help them do that, whether it’s through mental health support, whole family interventions or mentoring (for example). They all tend to offer support at key turning points. That might be at point of arrest, before court action is taken or when a child sustains a serious injury because they’ve been involved in a violent assault.

The question we’re aiming to answer:

Which diversion approaches work best at preventing 10 to 17-year-olds from becoming involved in violence?

What we’re aiming to invest in

We’ll aim to identify around 10-20 programmes that are ready for robust impact evaluation or could be supported to reach this point within two years. We will look to spend between £10 million and £20 million depending on the quality of the applications.

Scope of programmes we’ll fund in this round

We’re looking to fund projects that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Diversionary programmes that provide:
    (a) Family and parenting support
    (b) Mental health and therapeutic support
    (c) Restorative justice
  • Other approaches if they can demonstrate scale and evidence of impact.
  • Programmes that involve a referral by a relevant statutory body, for example:
    (a) Police
    (b) Violence Reduction Unit
    (c) Local Authority Youth Offending Team
    (d) Acute healthcare trust

    But programmes may be provided by charities, public services, or private sector organisations.
  • Programmes that have sufficient scale and evidence of impact to run a large-scale efficacy and/or effectiveness evaluation, through a randomised control trial or quasi-experimental design method.
  • Programmes that require a pilot study, but that could be ready for an efficacy and/or effectiveness trial within two years.

Why we’re investing in diversion

Through our conversations with stakeholders, you were clear that we should learn more about what makes a diversion programme effective. And there’s promising evidence that these approaches are effective at preventing reoffending and reducing the risk of involvement in violence. However, the evidence is mainly from the United States and more is needed on programmes run in the UK.

Grant round update: Projects through to co-design

After a rigorous assessment process (which you can read more about here), the following projects have been selected to progress to the next stage of our application process.

It’s important to note that the projects listed here aren’t guaranteed funding and the activities described may be subject to change.

In this next stage, applicants will work with an independent evaluator to co-design a final proposal and project plan. By working together with an evaluator at this early stage, projects can make sure that the design of their programme will help us learn more about what works to keep children safe from violence. The final plans will be reviewed by our Grant and Evaluation Committee who’ll make the final decision on whether or not to award the grant and the evaluation.

Action for Children

  • Diversionary programme type: Mental health and therapeutic support
  • Target region: North Wales
  • Evaluator: University of Warwick

The proposed project will see youth crime prevention workers use a ‘strength-based’ approach to co-produce support plans with young people at risk of or engaged in offending. Partnering with Bangor University, they’ll deliver mentoring alongside practices to improve mental resilience, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and will also provide tailored support to families.

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust

  • Diversionary programme type: Mental health and therapeutic support
  • Target regions: Lancashire and South Cumbria
  • Evaluator: University of Warwick

The proposed programme would look to work with young people, aged between 10 and 15 years-old who come into police custody due to violent behaviour. Building on the emotional health assessment that’s currently offered, the Trust’s Liaison and Diversion team will provide additional therapeutic support to the young person in an environment of their choosing (for example at home, school or in a community setting).

London VRU

  • Diversionary programme type: Mental health and therapeutic support
  • Target region: London
  • Evaluator: Institute for Fiscal Studies

The proposed programme will see qualified youth practitioners (social workers, youth workers, youth justice workers, teachers) trained and supported to deliver high-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy to children and young people at high-risk of becoming involved in violence.  By making therapeutic activities more available in the community, the programme aims to engage children and young people who do not typically access mental health services in clinical settings.


Redthread’s youth work teams are embedded within the emergency departments of 13 hospitals across London, Nottinghamshire and Birmingham. They use the ‘teachable moment’ of being admitted to hospital as victims of assault and exploitation, to help young people create positive change within their own lives and to disrupt the cycle of violence.

REMEDI – Restorative Services

  • Diversionary programme type: Restorative justice
  • Target region: Greater Manchester
  • Evaluator: University of Birmingham

The programme’s team of trained Restorative Justice Mentors will work with children and young people who’ve displayed violent behaviours and/or have committed violent crimes. They’ll facilitate restorative justice interventions between the young person and any identified victims, alongside providing intensive mentoring support for the young person and additional support for their families.

Salford Foundation

The proposed programme will see young people paired with a youth worker for six months, following referral from Greater Manchester Police. After a four-week assessment and trust building period, the child will agree an individual action plan based around their needs. They’ll then begin weekly face-to-face one hour mentoring sessions with the youth worker and take part in tailored diversionary activities. Additional support for the young person and their families will be provided when required.

United Borders

  • Diversionary programme type: Mentoring
  • Target regions: London (Brent, Enfield and Westminster)
  • Evaluator: University of Birmingham

United Borders deliver a two-month, trauma-informed music mentoring programme, focused on empowering young people and helping them to understand the impact of their behaviour on their wellbeing. Young people are referred by Brent Youth Offending Service or early intervention services at local schools. Once on the programme they’ll be paired with a mentor who’ll use music to build trust and help them understand trauma and its impact.

Violence Reduction Network for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland

  • Diversionary programme type: Mentoring
  • Target regions: Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
  • Evaluator: Sheffield Hallam University

The proposed programme involves identifying young people at-risk of becoming involve in violence through school-based ‘teachable moments’, which are precursors to exclusion from school and involvement in violence. For example, truancy, low attendance, aggressive and anti-social behaviour and substance misuse. The intervention will be based in eight schools in the Violence Reduction Network’s priority areas. Participants will receive intensive one-to-one mentoring and social skills training from youth workers, tailored to their needs, strengths and interests.

Violence Reduction Unit, Nottinghamshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

The proposed programme uses the moment a child is brought into the police custody suite to support and engage them in a range of activities to reduce their risk of future violent offending. A youth worker will spend time discussing a personal change plan with them, which might include mentoring, restorative justice or speech and language therapy, if appropriate. Support will be offered for up to 12 months, although in some cases it may be extended.

We Are With You

  • Diversionary programme type: Mentoring
  • Target regions: Kent, Cornwall, Lancashire and Merseyside
  • Evaluator: University of Kent

Children will be referred into this project by the police at the point of arrest when they are found in possession of a class B or class C drug. Through structured sessions with skilled youth workers framed around a contextual safeguarding approach, they’ll be given the chance to reflect on how their actions have affected their lives, their family and wider community. And they’ll be offered support in relation to trauma or consequences felt because of their arrest.

YES Outdoors

  • Diversionary programme type: Mentoring
  • Target regions: London (Camden, Hackney, Haringey and Islington)
  • Evaluator: Sheffield Institute of Education

The proposed nine-month programme starts with the new school year. Young people who’ve been identified as being at high-risk of becoming involved in violence are referred onto the programme by the police, multi-agency professionals and local authority youth services. The programme uses recreational activities, including indoor rock-climbing and bicycle maintenance, to provide positive role models, raise aspirations, teach new skills and provide therapeutic support.


19 April 2021
Online applications open
14 May 20221
Applications close
9 July 2021
Shortlisted applicants informed
July – October 2021
Shortlisted applicants co-design programme with evaluators
November 2021
Grants awarded
© 2021 The Youth Endowment Fund Charitable Trust. Registered Charity Number: 1185413.
For a better viewing experience we recommend you upgrade your browser.