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Trauma informed practice example

Updated: May 12

David Anglin giving a talk to Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington council staff


Steve from Red Light Busking interviewed David Anglin to find out the origins of the organisation. 

SJ: To begin, could you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to work with young people involved in the criminal justice system and in care?

DA:  So my name is David Anglin and I'm the director and founder of 4TY also known as Red Light Busking. When I think about it, my being involved in youth work I think came from my experiences growing up. Though I believe I grew up in a house where my parents loved me, there were a lot of issues going on due to one of my parents using class-A drugs, this brought much turbulence to my life growing up, as ended up witnessing many things that teens should not have seen. However, I do have to say I think this also gave me a really strong mental resilience. But I remember thinking that if I could do something to help stop a young person going through some of these things I experienced, then I felt like I would have achieved something worthwhile. My going into the field of the criminal justice system was again through seeing some of my close relatives going in and out of the prison system, and seeing first-hand the devastating effects of this, so again I went into that field as I believed I had real experience I could give in hopefully preventing some of these young people getting caught up in rubbish I had seen and experienced growing up.

SJ: Thank you for sharing, David. Your personal experiences have undoubtedly shaped your journey and commitment to supporting young people facing similar challenges. It's clear that your upbringing instilled in you a sense of empathy and a drive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Your resilience in the face of adversity is truly admirable. Can you tell us more about how these experiences influenced the founding of 4TY (Red Light Busking) and the approach you take in your work with young people?

DA: So I started working in a youth offending team as a sessional worker back in 2009. The nature of my role meant that I carried out a lot of the hands-on work with the young people, so taking them gym, court appointments, music studio, doing offending behaviour, anger management, etc the list goes on, and this was with all range of young people so those on ISS (intensive Supervision Surveillance) (high risk), referral orders, MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) etc. These experiences developed into my setting up 4TY (For The Youth) as I felt like there were things that working in a youth offending team I just was not able to achieve. As the more I worked with these young people is the more I started realising how early trauma such as a father not wanting anything to do with them, or having a mother with mental health issues really impacted these young people, the key thing was I realised everyone deals with the early trauma differently, which required a different approach for each young person, this is the approach I started to develop in 4TY. Which came from my taking young offenders to music studio and seeing how the creation of music, allowed for a more open and honest relationship, as often in music young people would talk about things they have not talked about before but are on their minds. This allowed me to really begin to understand things the young people were facing.

SJ: Your journey from working as a sessional worker in a youth offending team to founding 4TY (For The Youth) is truly inspiring. It's clear that your hands-on experience exposed you to the diverse needs and challenges faced by young people involved in the criminal justice system. Recognising the impact of early trauma on their lives and the importance of tailoring your approach to each individual's unique experiences is key. It's remarkable how music became a powerful tool for fostering open and honest communication, allowing you to build meaningful relationships with the young people you work with. Can you share more about how music specifically became central to the approach of 4TY and how it has helped in engaging and supporting young people?

DA: So many of the young people who I would take to the music studio were young people considered high risk, and very often other agencies struggled to work with them. When I took the young people to the music studio instead of dictating the type of music they should create I gave them rein to create what was on their minds. (At a youth offending team this could be trouble). Allowing them to be open and express what was on their minds done a crucial thing in my gaining their trust which is very important when working with young people with trauma etc, but it also allowed me to understand their world. Like I can remember a young person who was on ISS for extreme violence at the time when going to the studio he talked about seeing his mother getting beat up and how it made him feel worthless. Or another young person who had never talked about the passing of his mother who died in his arms using music to express how he feels and hoping to make her proud. 

Music allowed me to understand how they were feeling from a very open perspective, where with this knowledge I was able to have very open conversations with them, and this actually really worked in helping change many of their perspectives as I could interject some further insights that they may never have thought of. For example, I remember this one young person from south London, known as a main gang member and who no one could work with, but when taking him music studio, and the time spent together I was able to give him a perspective of going back to college to do music, so that he can become a better artists. And to everyone's shock, he went to college. One of the most important things in this nature of work I think is in really just taking time to listen.

For those interested in learning about the impacts from these sessions told from the point of view of a former young person I would recommend reading my interview with Akin. Entitled from Roads to riches interview with fashion label owner Akin Thunds please click here

SJ: Indeed, taking the time to listen and empathize with young people is crucial in building meaningful connections and facilitating their personal growth and development. Your work exemplifies the importance of meeting young people where they are, both figuratively and literally, and empowering them to shape their own narratives through creative expression.

Can you share a specific example of a challenging situation you encountered while working with a young person, and how you approached it using the principles of trauma-informed practice and your unique approach with music?

DA: Yeah, so a little while back I was working with a young person, who had recently lost his father, as the father had been killed by another family member, and this presented all kinds of problems. The young person was referred to our project, as he was struggling in attending school. I remember first meeting the young person and seeing how young he was just 14 I think. Many time's I would pick him up to take to our music studio project, but I was really worried for him, as I could see the streets were really getting hold of him, and I also knew that due to what he had gone through i.e. how he lost his father he would be extremely fierce on the streets if they got him. But as time developed things deteriorated more, as he was kicked out of his home by his mother, and he stayed in various different locations, where all the time I would go to get him to go to our music project, where we were the only thing he was attending, school had stopped now, as he felt it posed a danger to him, as he got more into serious gang violence and having to deal with the come back of it. 

All the while we were talking and me advising him, I could see he wanted out of it, as even he started realising just how serious this gang thing gets. I remember him telling me one day 'just last year I knew nothing about selling white, or going on glides and now look, if my dad was around this wouldn't have happened as he would have stopped me.' Many times he was emotional about the whole losing his father, hence his rage came from. I remember myself and a few other professionals who worked with him, were trying to do the most, to get further support for him, as it was like a ticking time bomb. So this meant working with various levels of social services to get him placed in accommodation as he was living all over the place. Eventually, this was sorted, but sometimes I think this was too little too late, just my opinion. But this was a massive learning curve for me and how I run my organisation, as talking with an educational psychologist I learned how they could support in situations like this, in identifying needs that can be used towards creating an Educational Health Care Plan, hence our organisation now works very closely with educational psychologists, but I also learned that cases like these can have a great emotionally impact on staff. Like really impact them emotionally to the point where if things aren't put in place for them it can lead to greater problems as they now start feeling emotionally burnt out, and this is again hence why I work very closely with educational psychologists even now, as working with them greatly helped the staff. If anyone is interested in learning more about this field from a more personal perspective I think my book Jerry would be really good for gaining a true understanding of this line of work. 

SJ: Thank you for sharing such a poignant and challenging experience, David. It's clear that you were deeply invested in supporting this young person through a tumultuous and heartbreaking period in his life.

Your reflection on the emotional toll that such cases can take on staff is also insightful. It's crucial to prioritise the well-being of both the young people you serve and the professionals who support them.

Your book, "Jerry," sounds like a valuable resource for gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges and realities of this line of work. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us.

Is there anything else you'd like to add or share about your work or your organisation?

DA: No I think that is all, though if anyone has any questions they can send an email to, additionally those looking for things to implement with trauma impacted young people, I would recommend going through our healing trauma with music online sessions, to view please click here


Step into the gritty streets of London alongside Jerry, a teen entangled in the harsh realities of urban life. Follow his journey through the maze of the care system and criminal justice system, as seen through the eyes of a dedicated professional working tirelessly to guide him through the storm.

In "Jerry," you'll experience the raw and unfiltered truth of the UK's criminal justice system for young people considered high risk. Through every twist and turn, you'll be captivated by the stark realism and gripping narrative that pulls you deeper into Jerry's world.

As you immerse yourself in Jerry's struggles and triumphs, you'll find yourself questioning what more we can do as a society to support these vulnerable youth… Download the ebook today for just £1. 


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