Working with Thames Valley VRU to make the evidence accessible: the Youth Endowment Fund Toolkit

By Matthew Van Poortvliet, Director of Evidence and Understanding, Youth Endowment Fund

Last week, when we launched the YEF Toolkit, Stan Gilmour said that the Thames Valley VRU “believes violence is preventable if you take a public health approach and tackle its root causes just like you take preventative action to stay healthy. This way, you can stop it escalating and even happening in the first place.”

That’s exactly what we, at the Youth Endowment Fund, stand for too. We have a £200 million endowment and a mission that matters. We’re here 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.

Like the VRU, we want to make sure that evidence guides our response to violence and prevents it before it happens. But to do that, we need to make sure that people can find what the research actually says.

Historically, that’s been difficult. That’s because the evidence about how best to support children has often been:

The YEF Toolkit changes that. It’s free, accessible and easy to use resource that summarises the best available research evidence about different approaches to preventing children from becoming involved in violence. It’s based on real life data about what has happened when these approaches have been used before.

It’s there to help It’s a free, online summary of the best available research on preventing violence. It’s here to support VRUs and your partners, to help you find the right solutions to prevent violence in your community. 

If you have a problem in you school, you can see how a social skills programme might help. You could discover how partnership approaches like focused deterrence could make a difference. You can find out how to improve a pre-court diversion to give you the best chance at reducing reoffending. It’s here to support your decision-making. To work best, it needs to be used alongside the expertise you have about what the children in your local areas need.

It’s also important to say that the YEF Toolkit is a live resource. When we developed this first version, we worked closely with Thames Valley VRU to develop it to make sure it gives you the information you need in a way that’s easiest to find. And over time, we’ll carry on listening to your feedback so we can keep improving it.

It’s also important to say that we’ll carry on working with you to make sure that we’re generating the best possible evidence. We’re proud to be working with Thames Valley VRU to trial new types of evaluations as we look to see how hospital navigators can support children at times of crisis.

We’ll use what we learn through our funded partnerships and add it to the YEF Toolkit. We hope to work with you to rapidly improve the evidence base in England and Wales by evaluating promising programmes to find out what works. As we work with you to build the evidence, we’ll share it through the YEF Toolkit.

By working together to grow and share the evidence, we can make sure children get the evidence-informed services they deserve. 

What should we include when we update the Toolkit? Take our quick survey. And if you have any other thoughts on what we could do to improve, please do let us know. Email my colleague Pete, the YEF’s Head of Toolkit, on

Want to find out more? You can read more about the YEF Toolkit (and how to use it) here.