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Important community messages on gangs and youth violence struggling for air time

The Wickers Charity; https://wickers.org.uk/

Much of the headlines after Notting Hill were about crime figures, arrest numbers, the temperature and attendance figures. The media often misses some of the important causes and messages presented by the London communities on floats, banners and t-shirts at a time when much of the media is monopolised by Brexit, Trump and Love Island. So there was little coverage of a ‘Bikes Up, Knives Down’ campaign bus which ran through Notting Hill Carnival, even with the support of BMX star Ryan Taylor and premier league footballer, Andre Grey. The group of young people from the anti- knife crime Wickers Charity, wore stab vests to show their support for the campaign. The charity provides a safe haven for youngsters in East London and an alternative to gang activity and serious youth violence. Another good example of a public health, prevention approach to the challenge of gangs and knife crime. We saw a number of other important contributions by community groups on our day at Carnival but none of them were seen outside London W11.

Read more about the public health approach, and our part in it, on our website – https.//www.ask-us.org.uk – or follow us on Facebook or Linked In

Help us publicise the community’s response to an issue every bit as important as Brexit by re-tweeting, posting or forwarding this article.

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Rather than demonise knife carrying kids, we must look to offer young people an alternative path

This sobering article reveals a total of 1,144 knife possession offences in schools, where the suspect was a child, were recorded in England, Scotland and Wales last year. The headline bleakly recalls one child as young as six found with a knife in a North London school. The statistics and anecdotes paint a gloomy picture. The reactions are typically built around enforcement (exclusions and escalating to the criminal justice system). The likely reaction to discovering a knife in school would be to exclude the child.  However, a reduction in school exclusions in Scotland over the last decade has been credited as a major factor in keeping children out of reach of gangs and youth crime. 

And other cities have similarly shown that a more considered, preventive agenda, based on a public health approach, does work. 

Successful projects in other major cities, like Glasgow and Liverpool, where the level of knife crime was prevalent, looked to offer young people an alternative to gang membership and the need to carry weapons, such as re-opening youth clubs, creating safe places to play, offers of training and casual , part time or full time work.

Other projects involved sending senior doctors into schools to share their experiences on the front line (where they had experienced first hand the harrowing impact of knife crime) and stimulating classroom debate on risks of carrying knives and dealing drugs. 

Prevention is better than cure, after all. 

For details of the first line of defence approach provided by the Ask Me Service, visit our website – www.ask-us.org.uk 

Sign up to join our growing number of Ambassadors by expressing an interest, here – https://ask-us.org.uk/ask-me-ambassador

Follow us on Twitter at @AskMe_LBWF

And if you agree with the ‘prevention’ approach to youth, knife and gang crime , please like our Facebook page

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Fighting back – Waltham Forest Community Speaks up

The Ask Me Team joined 200 people at a community event in Walthamstow last Thursday 15th August, organised by Stella Creasy MP. The Met Commissioner Cressida Dick also attended with officers from the area to listen to the concerns of the community on the back of the recent rise in youth violence and particularly knife crime.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick at the event

It was so valuable to listen to the diverse audience from across Waltham Forest discuss their concerns and to identify possible solutions.  The session kicked off with really moving testimony from Jayden Moodie’s family. They discussed the tragic impact that Jayden’s murder had had on them and wanted to see more community policing, more activities for young people in the area and support services to help families prevent the problems arising in the first place. We agree with them that “prevention is better than cure” and the community, supported by the police, local council and local interest groups, can pull together to tackle the challenges.  This has been the experience north of the border, for example, in Glasgow. (See – https://quarterly.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/04/a-radical-approach-to-tackling-knife-crime-in-scotland)

At the meeting, the community clearly stated that lack of safe spaces & activities for young people, ease of availability of knives, reduced visibility of community police and the need for better signposting support for young people/their families are issues leading to rise in knife crime & youth crime in the area.

The group wanted greater visibility of services/community police, more specialist support for schools, listening sessions with local councillors, more funding for youth support services, promoting opportunities for young people and giving them a voice identified as some of the big asks.

The event was very well attended

The Ask Me Team were able to explain to those members of the community who attended the aims of the Ask Me online advice and support for young people and their families and to set out our plans to launch the second phase of the Ask Me programme in October.

We promoted the FAQs on the ask-us.org.uk website and encouraged people to raise any questions and issues not covered already via our Ask Us service on the website. The Ask Us service is supported by leading experts in the field of gangs and youth violence who are available to answer any new questions.

So far 16 Ask Me Ambassadors have signed up for the training session on 28th September and should be visible in Waltham Forest from October.  We need another 24 Ambassadors to make the programme as effective as possible.

The community meeting echoed its frustration at the lack of signposting to the various services in the borough to help families affected by gang membership and violence. The Ask Me Ambassadors will not only be available to listen and support young people in the area but will be a much needed first line of defence to sign post anyone with concerns about gang and youth violence to other partners within the Waltham Forest Gang Prevention Programme and wider. 

We are confident that the Ask Me Service, as part of the borough’s public health approach to gang prevention, is playing a leading role in the community’s response to worrying local trends and incidents linked to gang and knife crime.

If you want to ask us a question, click on https://ask-us.org.uk/ask-us

If you have 4 hours+ available each month to give back to your community and you are interested in becoming an Ambassador, please express your interest here – https://ask-us.org.uk/register-your-interest

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National gun surrender

The Metropolitan Police are taking part in the national gun surrender. Until Sunday 4 August 2019 you can hand in any firearm or ammunition anonymously to your nearest police station.

#GiveUpYourGun and help keep firearms out of the wrong hands 👉 http://news.met.police.uk/news/met-launches-video-as-part-of-2019-national-firearms-surrender-week-376276

For information about the possible causes of recent rise in knife crime and gun crime in London , please see the FAQs on our website – Ask-Me.org – and if the answer isn’t there, Ask Us via the site.

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See the latest blog on the impact of Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU)

Further evidence from Scotland that the public health approach to gangs and youth violence really does work. See the latest blog on the impact of Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU). The ‘Ask Me’ Ambassador Scheme, as part of Waltham Forest Borough Council’s Gang Prevention Programme. adopts the same public health approach to the problem. We hope that in the coming months and years, we will be able to tell the same success story for London.
Posted by AskMe Admin in Blog