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Communities join forces with mayor to tackle youth violence

COLLABORATION: Sadiq Khan speaks with community groups about violent youth crime

COMMUNITY GROUPS from across London have come together with the mayor and his deputies to share ideas on how to best respond to rising youth violence in the capital.

Deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, Matthew Ryder, hosted the meeting of community groups and leaders working with young people at City Hall on Wednesday (April 18).

Speaking to The Voice, Ryder said: “It’s obvious that it was really important to involve the community in this discussion and it was so important for us to see so many people want to come, share their views, share their experience, share what they can offer, share how they’re working already.”

He added: “The first thing we should be asking ourselves is how do we make life better for the young people in the areas that we live in.”

PICTURED: Matthew Ryder, deputy for social integration social mobility and community engagement, talks to guests at the event on youth violence

Grassroots organisations dedicated to working with young people and community leaders collaborated and communicated with each other during the event. The mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the deputy mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden, were also in attendance, giving the various groups and community figures an opportunity to speak directly with them both.

Khan had invited the groups to City Hall to build on his knife crime strategy and discuss how best to tackle violent crime against the backdrop of a rise in young victims and perpetrators of serious violence.

Jean-Pierre Moore, a youth worker, said that this direct, face-to-face contact with the deputy mayor and other groups was one of the highlights of the day.

He told The Voice: “I’ve been doing it a long time but there were some really important people in the room, people that often go unnoticed.

PICTURED: Youth services manager Jean-Pierre Moore

“To see a lot of them in one room, I think is really powerful but I think we need a lot more of that.”

Stefan Brown, founder of Stop Our Kids Being Killed on Our Streets, also spoke of his delight that the meeting had brought together different grassroots organisations that are working “in the trenches”.

Brown told The Voice: “I’m glad that he’s [Ryder] gone to the actual people that are in the community doing the right work...we can make a change within the community of London.”

PICTURED: Stefan Brown, founder of Stop Our Kids Being Killed on Our Streets

Brown said that despite the media reports on the rising rate of youth violence in London, it was not a hopeless situation.

“There is hope. We can change the youth.” he said. He also championed a holistic approach to the problem – one that means young people can be directed to services in relation to mental health, housing, counselling and drug and gang rehabilitation through an individual organisation.

Ryder said: “There were a lot of voices here saying we need to help people parent better.

“We need to make sure as a community – and as Londoners – we all come together, all take responsibility.”

Organisations working with at risk young people often struggle with funding. Brown said Khan had addressed the obstacle of grassroots organisations having to pay fees of around £1000 to have an application for funding drawn up on their behalf. “We got some really good reassurances from Mr Khan today.”

Moore said eight years of cuts had had a devastating impact on young people and called for more physical spaces for organisations and those they work with.

“We need more safe spaces for young people to be in, otherwise they have to be outside and outside is run by people who might be criminally motivated or criminally organised,” he said.

Pastor Lorraine Jones, who set up boxing scheme Dwaynamics in memory of her son Dwayne Simpson, a stabbing victim, and police officers were also in attendance.

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