Lambeth school employees from the dinner lady to the head of year are about to get trained up on how to support youngsters in gangs.

Launched in Crystal Palace last week the Barnardo’s YouTurn project will send specialist project workers into schools to train employees on how to spot and support gang members.

The project will also work directly with community groups and family members, with the aim of helping young people make better, positive life choices.

Lambeth is one of three participating boroughs, along with Southwark and Croydon and 1200 young people are set to benefit from targeted intervention during YouTurn’s three-year lifespan.

Girls and young women will be big priority for YouTurn, with a 51 per cent rise in the number of girls committing criminal offences in Lambeth between 2012 and 2014.

“Too often, young people in south London find themselves being pressured into situations involving gangs and violence,” said Director for Barnardo’s London, Lynn Gradwell.

“It’s all too easy for teenagers and even younger children to become embroiled in activity which puts themselves and others at risk. Just a few poor decisions can lead to a chain of events from which both boys and girls find it very hard to escape.”

YouTurn comes off the back of a similar, successful project run in Lambeth and Southwark in 2012-15, which carried out group work sessions with over 300 young people in schools and the community.

The project launched last week at the Barnardo’s office in Crystal Palace.

It has received £360,000 of backing from the Big Lottery Fund.