With levels of youth violence in London reaching crisis point we at NHYC feel it is crucial for those in power to hear directly from the young people affected.
We were therefore more than happy to facilitate a meeting last month between Home Secretary Amber Rudd and two young men affected by serious youth violence.
Both have experienced the trauma of being stabbed as well having been subsequently drawn into crime themselves. Our Youth Outreach Project staff have done intensive, long-term work with both clients to help them turn their lives around, with the result that one is now launching his own business and the other is pursuing a career in the rail industry.
The Home Secretary was visiting to launch a government strategy on reducing knife crime which focuses on early intervention via community groups and charities, with £1 million additional funding being given to the Knife Crime Community Fund, and £11 million to the new Early Intervention Youth Fund. During the visit the minister toured the centre and saw all the work we do through counselling, education, training, and youth work to help traumatised young people establish a more positive path, before meeting with our two YOP clients.
They spoke candidly to the Home Secretary about how poverty, a lack of mental health support, scarce job prospects and a dearth of affordable housing can leave young people vulnerable to being drawn into drug dealing to support themselves and their families. This in turn brings about the “turf wars” that can play into knife crime - although we know from those we work with that this is just one of the many complex causes of serious youth violence.
These young men powerfully articulated the trauma they’ve experienced and their own view of why knife crime in particular has reached epidemic proportions. They agreed with the Home Secretary that early intervention needs to be part of the solution but also asked challenging questions about the reduction in funding for youth services.
Our clients often tell us that they feel nobody in power really cares about the horrific levels of violence affecting them. We would therefore like to thank Amber Rudd and the Home Office for their visit and for giving two of the many people we support the chance to speak face to face with one of the most influential politicians in the country.
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