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Finding a solution to youth violence

WORKING TOGETHER: From left to right, Abdul-Karim Abdullah, Jenni Steele and Jamal
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THE LAUNCH of Lambeth’s Violence Reduction Unit began with a historic meeting at Lambeth Town Hall last month organised by the Lambeth Safer Neighbourhood Board.

We saw the community leaders, council members and councillors, Third Sector sector organisations, faith leaders, health professionals and police officers sit down on September 23 and begin to map out what a public health approach to reducing violence looks like.

Alastair Reid, programme manager for Lambeth Safer Neighbourhood Board, highlighted the need for communities to be engaged on all levels on the design and delivery of a public health approach to reducing violence.

Citing information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) he highlighted the need to define the problem, identify risks and protective factors, develop and test prevention strategies and then assure widespread adoption.

Contributions from Lee Jasper representing Code 7, a youth organisation, emphasised the need for members of the community in Lambeth to be engaged and also for the narrative of violence to extend beyond youth and gangs and include all forms such as domestic and psychological which are major contributors to the cycle of violence.

VOCAL

Lee, who served as Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities to the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone until he resigned in March 2008, has been very vocal about the need for total community involvement in the shaping of the public health model.


PICTURED: Lee Jasper

This involvement, said Lee, is essential in ensuring that policies to reduce violence are effective and deliver meaningful change to the communities most affected by poverty and crime.

Notable community members from across Lambeth came down to support the community centred conversation and looking at solutions moving forward.

Pastor Lorraine Jones (Dwanamics), Asher Senetor (Code 7), Gary Trowsdale (the Spirit of London awards) and Winston Goode (Juvenis) and a number of others contributed their ideas on how to achieve social change in the borough and across London.

A presentation from Kristian Aspinal, Lambeth Council’s lead on community safety, drew on statistics that were taken from police and ambulance data and it high - lighted that African Caribbean males in Lambeth make up 65 per cent of the 85 per cent male offender rate.

Lambeth are clear that there needs to be a systematic change in order to ensure that offender and victimisation rate decreases as Lambeth has the highest rates of violence in London.

Jamal Simpson, Lambeth’s representative for Youth Parliament, left, gave an address that ensured the youth voice will be heard and said that one of the priorities for Youth Parliament was to address youth violence and making sure young people are getting access to good education as it could change their life – and thus potentially spark a change in the community.


DISCUSSING SOLUTIONS: Dr Mahamed Hashi addresses the audience

Lambeth Council is paving the way in actualising a public health approach to tackling serious youth violence in the borough and hopefully setting the standard of what that looks like across the city enabling other boroughs to take a similar approach.

The people who live in the communities affected by violence know that a hyper-local approach is the only effective way a public health model will work.

During the event I highlighted the fact that youth services must be continually funded as young people who are affected by serious youth violence, poverty and trauma are being marginalised in their own communities.

Brixton High Street and the Town Hall looks nice with the surge of regeneration but one in three children in Lambeth are living in poverty and the violence figures are rising.

Cllr Dr Mohamad Hashi reminded those present about how much talent Lambeth has with all the diverse community champions who were in the room and across the borough.

He reminded the audience that if we all are working together we can make significant impact moving forward for the betterment of the young people in the community.

There was a consensus in the town hall at the end of the conversation that we all need to work together and ensure that we are putting young people at the centre of the issue.

Young black men are in real danger compared to young men from other ethnic backgrounds in Lambeth, and they will need special attention to enable them to thrive.

Abdul-Karim Abdullah from Young Lambeth Co-op, is a community youth worker.

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