Introducing Amania Scott-Samuels, SCYJ’s new Policy and Engagement Assistant

“I have always been keen to bridge gaps between underrepresented groups and those making the decisions that have such a significant impact on their lives. Growing up in Brixton and seeing many of those close to me affected by the criminal justice system (CJS) led me to study Criminology at university. I have recently completed my Criminal Justice and Criminology masters at the University of Leeds, which further developed my particular focus on youth justice. These studies afforded me opportunity to conduct primary research with justice-affected youth for my two dissertations, firstly surrounding the 2011 riots and most recently concerning the presence and impact of trauma and trauma-informed approaches in relation to knife crime.

Following my studies, I was looking for a role that was truly impactful –at both the interpersonal and policy level. Furthermore, to me it was vitally important to be part of a team and organisation that understood the significance of lived experience, whilst recognising the complexities of youth involvement in crime and the responses that follow. I was attracted to the SCYJ as a result of the emphasis on putting children first when it comes to criminal processes and the aims to address issues across the prevention, policing, custody and resettlement stages. The organisation’s priority areas, proactive approach to policy reform and eagerness to incorporate youth participation really excited me!

I have five years of mainly youth and community engagement work, having planned and delivered workshops and youth engagement events with a number of organisations. My belief in the need for scrutiny of the police lead me to work with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as a young advisor, where I facilitated discussions across the country. I also presented these findings to various stakeholders including the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) 2020 ‘Child-Centred Policing’ conference. I also guest edited Issue 37 of the IOPC’s publication ‘Learning the Lessons’ – the ‘Young People’ issue. With the Scouts Association I worked to widen participation of young people in skills-based activities in deprived areas in what I believe was invaluable, non-punitive, preventative work. Additionally, with Leaders Unlocked I have worked on youth co-production projects relating to school exclusion, the welfare state, looked-after children and others in frequent contact with the CJS. Having benefited directly from amazing volunteer mentors over the years, I know some of my most important work was mentoring inner-city (elementary-high school) children in America and being trained for a similar 1-1 mentoring role at Leeds Youth Offending Service.

My knowledge of many member organisations only strengthened the weight and credibility of the SCYJ’s aims and abilities to make meaningful long-term change in the area of youth justice, in my eyes. In keeping with this, learning more about the work of those I was not previously aware of demonstrated the undeniable value of having a means to consolidate ideas and experiences of frontline work – as there is so much good stuff going on! I cannot wait to get to meet and work with you all more closely in the near future.”

Amania will be working for us Tuesday-Thursday on all things policy and engagement, but specifically with our upcoming youth participation project and producing the youth justice bulletin. If you have any ideas regarding policy and engagement (or would like to say hello!) you can get in touch with her at amania@scyj.org.uk

The SCYJ would like to extend huge thanks and appreciation to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for their generosity, investing in our team and making this fantastic appointment possible.