Prime Minister backs Day of Hope to mark the potential of young people like Damilola Taylor

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has fully backed an annual National Day Of Hope for December 7, which would have been Damilola Taylor’s birthday.

The Premier described the young his killing as ‘senseless’, before admitting to having failed to rid the streets of knife crime and gangs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

He has backed the Hope 2020 campaign to highlight the positive work young people are doing in the country – but he also believes more police, a crackdown on county lines gangs and more stop and search powers could slash against violent crime.

But he added in The Sun on the day Damilola would have turned 31: “You can’t beat this problem just by locking people up. Young people need to be steered away from a culture of violence.

“We need to give all our kids the same sense of ambition, of purpose, of hope.

“I salute the Taylor family, the Damilola Taylor Trust and Hope collective, for all the work they do. Let’s honour the memory of Damilola Taylor on what would have been his 31st birthday — and let’s make it a National Day of Hope.”

Former trust chief executive Gary Trowsdale said: “We wanted to bring as many people and organisations together in partnership as possible to celebrate the kind of positive-minded young person Damilola represented.

“I came come back to the Damilola Taylor Trust off the back of four years as team leader for the all party Parliament commission into youth violence specifically to develop the campaign. So I was acutely aware how important partnership work has become. The team behind the successful Scottish violence reduction unit have always said that the success they achieved was all about relationships. People all pulling in the same direction.

“It was fantastic to find so many charities and organisations willing to commit time and effort alongside their own challenging day jobs to make the campaign a success.

“Covid has caused chaos in the charity sector as funding has dried up and demand for services risen. So it was a terrifically uplifting piece of news for everybody involved with the Damilola Taylor Trust and Hope collective when the Prime Minister agreed to give formal Government backing for the Day of Hope becoming an annual event.

“This year all events took place online. But next years Day of Hope will be a huge celebration with youth-led events all over the country organised by the Hope Collective.

“We mustn’t kid ourselves though. Things are going to get tougher still with the recession coming and youth unemployment going through the roof. It’s a recipe for disaster if action isn’t taken to support those most in need.”

Damilola had dreamed of becoming a doctor, and shortly before his death he had written of his hope to “change the world”. His friends, Star Wars star John Boyega and Capital 1Xtra breakfast DJ Yinka Bokkini, have both gone on to achieve the kind of success he might have achieved.

Gary, 60, hopes his cycle ride, below, will raise £30,000 to help the Damilola Taylor Trust maintain its employability programmes in 2021, as funding gets tighter and ever more competitive.

Hope 2020 is inspired by the “public health approach” to reducing violence affecting young people by early interventions which turn them away from self-destructive behaviour.

To support Damilola’s legacy campaign, go to:


A celebration of the potential of Damilola Taylor and other young people – the Day of Hope – has culminated in the completion of a 350-mile cycle ride by the former chief of the trust set up in his name.

Gary Trowsdale, former chief executive of the Damilola Taylor Trust, pedalled for five days, most of that in driving rain. Damage to the bike caused an unscheduled stopover in Middlesbrough to get repairs so he arrived on Saturday, in Jarrow on Tyneside – the day after would have been Damilola’s 31st birthday.

Gary’s destination was a symbolic reminder of the Jarrow Crusade in 1936, a march for jobs in the other direction, to London, amid the devastation of the Great Depression.

Gary Trowsdale on his cycle ride

Gary said: “We were not quite replicating the 1936 crusade which saw 200 March from the North East to Parliament, delivering a petition calling for action to deal with the poverty and unemployment blighting the region.

“But I wanted to highlight the reality of poverty as a national problem and one that London is far from immune from. The problems faced in 1936 are not looking too dissimilar to the problems were facing now.

“Inequality is a huge factor underpinning crime and violence here in London due to wealth disparity being off the scale – and multi million pound apartment complexes springing up alongside disadvantaged communities who see little or no benefit from the gentrification.

“In areas like the North East there’s terrible, high levels of poverty still but it seems to be more equal as there isn’t the same scale of wealth disparity or gentrification of poor areas.

“I feel this goes some way towards explaining the different scales of crime and violence as well.”

He met many youth orgs aligned to the legacy campaign in the 350-mile slog. “The passion and commitment to support young people was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Society needs to harness this positive energy and give the charity youth sector the support it needs to be resilient and face the challenges ahead.”

To contribute funds for Gary’s ride to Jarrow

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