Young people share emotional stories and put forward their solutions to tackle knife crime

South London’s youth ‘leaders of the future’ have shared emotional real-life stories and put forward their solutions on how to tackle knife crime in their communities.

Organisers of the event, in memory of Damilola Taylor, hope to inspire change and encourage community strength to prove “it takes a village to raise a child”.

Around 70 young people came together from across London to take part in the Hope Collective event at Lilian Baylis Technology College, Kennington, on Saturday (July 24).

The day-long workshop, saw young people exploring the “unfairness of a failing state system” and discussing what they feel solutions should look like to tackling the poverty and inequality blighting their communities.

Gary Trowsdale, the Legacy Director of the Damilola Taylor Trust, said:”Listening to the stories of the young people on Saturday was emotional, many of them quite distressing.

“The circumstances many of our children find themselves in through no fault of their own is shameful and that’s the truth.

“Their hopes and dreams of a fairer, safer, society in which all young people can find equal opportunity and thrive was so inspiring though.

The Hope Collective was formed to support the 20th anniversary legacy campaign for Damilola Taylor.

The “Hope Hack” is the first of a string being staged by the Hope Collective, a partnership of youth charities, organisations, health and justice professionals and Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) which emerged from the Damilola Taylor Trust’s 20th anniversary campaign.

This weekend’s event was part of a series that will also take place across the UK with Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow to follow.

“There is no greater legacy for Damilola and all the young people we’ve lost before their time,” said Mr Trowsdale.

“Society needs to see that these are our children not just somebody else’s problem.

“In essence the philosophy of the public health approach is it takes a village to raise a child.

“The Collective has brought together the most eclectic partnership cohort of its kind ever assembled with a mission statement to explore solutions to poverty and inequality, which are the root causes of virtually all social ills and the driving influence underpinning the crime and violence plaguing poor communities.

The National Citizenship Service (NCS) event team created the format for the events supported by Collective team members from UK Youth, Onside Zones, National Housing associations youth network, Rio Ferdinand Foundation and grass roots life skills mentoring specialist 2020 Change.

Many of the young people who took part in the event came through the 2020 Change “I am change” programme.

Mr Trowsdale, a lead advisor to an All-Party Parliament commission into the root causes of youth violence, had a report published in 2018 that led to the Governments decision to invest in VRUs, as seen in Scotland, that could see a dramatic decrease in violence on the streets.

“The success of the event was something they can be very proud of,” Mr Trowsdale added.

“Its first and foremost about relationships.

“The biggest lesson to be learned about the success in Scotland where the VRU was granted autonomy to get on with its work.

“Politicians show unity in supporting the process, then allowing the VRUs to get on with the job of creating community led initiatives.

“Relationships – that’s the simple formula the Hope Collective is following and on Saturday we saw what the magic of relationships can create.

“What was really special above all else was the drive and enthusiasm of the Hope Collective amalgamated youth leadership team co-chaired by Olivia Koimur from the Damilola Taylor Trust youth board and Tyrell Davis-Douglin of the London VRU youth action board.

“Along with Kenya Lamb from Crimestoppers who co-hosted the event, these young social change advocates represent the true face of the young people of London and the broader UK who, if given the tools, can have a huge impact on impacting change.

“We called the hacks “changing the conversation” because, quite simply, the conversation needed to change.

“For far too long the adult establishment has fixated on the symptoms manifesting out of poverty and inequality such as knife crime and gang culture while simultaneously not seeking solutions to the problem itself.

“That had to change before anything else would change and that’s what the Hope Collective will be focusing on.”

Other events hackathon events:

Belfast – Saturday August 7 – Racism & Division

Manchester – Saturday September 18 – Housing & Environment

Cardiff – Saturday October 9 – Education & Employment

Glasgow – Saturday November 13 – Physical & Mental Wellness

On-line (National) – Tuesday December 7 – The ‘Day of Hope’ Hack – A series of online

events staged during the day that cover all the areas discussed in the physical events



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