Leap’s curriculum has been developed through action research and 30 years’ experience of delivering powerful group training for young people and adults. 

We use action research to better understand current and emerging social issues. Action research is a cyclical, self-reflective practice in which both ‘action’ and ‘research’ are pursued to improve the way an issue is addressed. This enables us to develop new methods and approaches at the same time as we train our participants. 

An action research approach ensures that we consider and learn from the work of service users, other practitioners doing similar work in other settings and more formal research.  

Leap has a voice on the issues that confront young people in the UK. With three decades of experience we are well-placed to support the development of policy and practice. 

Current projects

Leadership and Enterprise

In 2016 we launched the pioneering three-year Leadership and Enterprise Project in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Both areas have high levels of violence associated with gangs, including gun and knife crime.

The project follows a whole gang approach that sees gang members support each other to make positive changes in their lives, rather than encouraging an individual to leave a gang. We believe peers are the best people to influcence each other, challenge behaviour and bring about long-term, lasting change. We are working in close partnership with other organisations in the area to build relationships with young people in, or at risk of being in, gangs.

Young Women in Lambeth

Leap's three year project (2017-2020) works with gang affected young women in Lambeth. Working in close partnership with Leadership and Enterprise, this project will allow Leap to offer services to young women, whose specific needs can be overlooked when tackling peer-on-peer violence.

Through partnership work with local organisations and by building strong connections with young women in Lambeth, we will look at safe choices, positive relationship building and developing self-value through our interactive and inspiring training courses. The project will be aided by a period of action research and focus group learning, and will draw on over 6 years of experience developing curriculums for young women.

Peaceful Prisons Project

This three-year project aims to reduce violence in prisons. Since launching in October 2015 we have researched the causes of violence in UK prisons and studied examples of good practice in violence reduction across the secure estate. During 2017 and 2018, we will develop and pilot an intervention that reflects our learning. The programme will benefit from independent evaluation and the final results will be disseminated to stakeholders and potential partners.

The programme benefits from an Advisory Panel that includes ex-offenders, senior managers from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), academics and researchers with direct experience of UK prisons and violence reduction practitioners.

The combination of academic and action research with operational experience is an exciting hybrid that offers the best of both research, practice and strategic intelligence.

Past projects

Gangs and Territorialism

This project began in 2001 and focused on supporting young gang members in healthy transitions to adulthood. Two staff members interviewed 330 young people involved in gangs, studied successful interventions working with gangs in the US, mainland Europe and across the UK and conducted a paper review to build on their understanding . Leap then ran pilot programmes in London, Manchester and Glasgow to trial the newly developed training materials based on the following key themes:

  • Safety and Danger
  • Space and Territory
  • Status and Reputation
  • Enemies and Revenge

The practice that the trainers developed was written up in a practitioner manual - “Working with Gangs and Young People”. Since its publication in 2006, it has become Leap’s most successful publication, selling more than 2,500 copies.

 

Girlstory

Approaches to gang and street based violence (including the criminal justice system), have often overlooked the experience of young women. In 2010 we undertook a small action research programme to address this imbalance. We explored existing research and worked directly with young women and professionals in areas where there was a high level of gang activity, to develop work specifically targeted at young women affected by gangs. From this we created the GIRLSTORY resource pack, offering information and guidance to practitioners, as well as a programme for girls that we have piloted in Manchester, Bristol and London over a period from 2011-2015. The first practitioner training was rolled out to professionals from Youth Offending Teams, Targeted Children’s Services and Housing Associations and Pupil Referral Units in December 2015.