Blog Gun Violence Initiative Violence & Abuse

Inaugural conference addresses community-based violence awareness and solutions

Written by Larita Rice-Barnes, Life Outside of Violence community support specialist, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Kateri Kramer-Chapman, project coordinator, Life Outside of Violence, the St. Louis Area Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program

Violence prevention providers, grantees such as WashU’s Life Outside of Violence (LOV) Program, funders and local, state and federal government officials recently convened in St. Louis at the inaugural “Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative Grantee Conference”. Government officials attending the event included U.S. Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta and U.S. Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland and Mayor for the City of St. Louis, Tishaura Jones. Conference topics included Hospital-Based Approaches to Community Violence Intervention (CVI), The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Community Violence Interventions, and Best Practices for Supporting Frontline Violence Intervention Workers. Work sessions were offered to encourage the sharing of best practices.

The LOV program is a grant recipient of the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. Through this funding, and facilitated by the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, LOV helps advance community violence intervention strategies in the St. Louis region. The conference was integral to the LOV program because it enabled program staff and other attendees to share lived experiences with others working in the field of community violence prevention and intervention. “Credible messengers” typically share the conversation around lived experiences. According to an article released by the Urban Institute, credible messengers are individuals trusted by their community who have lived experiences of community violence and use those experiences to help others change their lives practically (e.g.: safety, employment, education) and therapeutically (addressing past trauma, or reducing anxiety, depression). 

Events like the conference are important to the lives and work of LOV staff because it allows us to be in the room with, and hear from, other violence prevention providers and funders. The stories and knowledge shared by other subject matter experts in the CVI field was both inspirational and transformative. One key takeaway from this national convening is the ongoing reinforcement of how important community-based violence intervention and prevention work is to the families and the communities we serve. The LOV program, for example, works to prevent re-injury, retaliation, criminal involvement, and death. Another conference takeaway is recognition of the dire need to continue to scale the work and build capacity.

Life Outside of Violence staffers will use these takeaways to advance programmatic goals and to illuminate the message that community violence is a public health crisis. We also hope to grow the provided services that can help us advance our mission to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence. At LOV, we take pride in our work. We have skilled and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about the families we serve. We want to see them healed and able to access the resources they need. We are committed to fostering safer communities.

LOV is the first hospital-based intervention program in the nation to incorporate three research universities (Washington University, Saint Louis University and University of Missouri-St. Louis) and four hospitals (Barnes-Jewish Hospital, SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.) Read more about the program on our website and click on the “Give” button to support our work.