16 July 2019

On Tuesday 2nd July, the APPG on Youth Affairs held a meeting on the ‘Public Health Approach to Knife Crime’. Two members of Dare London, our youth advisory board, were invited along to give their views. Ciaran and Jo-Ash speak below about their views on youth violence and what it meant to attend an event at Parliament.

Ciaran, Dare Londoner

What would your message about youth violence be to the new Prime Minister?

I would want them to know that there are people on the ground trying to create solutions. Not everything has to come from the top down. Community-based projects we have been hearing about do make a huge difference. It’s not about imposing something from central government onto people. It’s about allowing people and supporting people to help within their communities from the bottom up.

What’s it like coming to Parliament and what would say to young people interested in getting involved in youth social action?

Coming to Parliament is great. It’s one of the few times that you come and speak to people who actually have power over the laws that you live under. Therefore, for any young person who wants to come along to parliament, the answer is go and do it. It’s the opportunity you’ve got to find the people who have power and tell them what you think. It’s the best way to get change on any topic: whether it’s knife crime, through to Brexit. You can go and try to influence the people who actually have control over your lives by coming to parliament. If you’ve ever get the opportunity, go and do it!

What is the role in community in preventing youth violence?

Young people need a sense of community to make sure that they feel a part of the area they live in, so that they have a reason to want to be involved in society. Youth groups provide an opportunity for young people to have a sense of ownership of projects they are involved in. They give young people the opportunity to express themselves and to get involved in events in a safe environment, rather than turning towards gangs or turning towards violence.

With 132 people killed in London in 2018 alone, it would be a nice to see a more prevention-led method for dealing with violence, particularly youth violence. Once someone has been killed, it is already too late. It’d be nice to see a prevention approach, using youth services as a way of getting to young people who are more involved with violence.

Jo-Ash, Dare Londoner

If you could say one thing to the new Prime Minister after this meeting, what would it be?

Knife crime is a serious problem in London, but not just in London; it’s everywhere. Guidance and advice from the police at schools and colleges does have a positive impact by having police talk about knife crime and ways to prevent it in the future. Plus, to understand that there are serious consequences to knife crime.

For me personally, when I do opportunities my mum always calls me on the phone and says, ‘Make sure you get home safe and make sure you call me’. I understand that now. Even though I haven’t been through the experiences with violence that others have, my mum still worries about me. Because it doesn’t matter where I go, these things can happen anywhere. That’s why she’s concerned about me sometimes and now I agree. Sometimes before I would get annoyed and think, ‘Why is my mum doing this? Why is my mum doing that? I’m 20 and blah blah blah!’ Now I know that it’s not because of my age. It’s because I’m a young person myself. I just left my teenage years and I’m becoming more independent now, but I still need to be safe. Even though I wish it was not the way it is. The reason why we are on this earth is to make change.

What’s it like coming to Parliament and what would say to young people interested in getting involved in youth social action?

The meeting was daunting to be honest. Hearing people’s stories about the experience of violence made me feel a bit scared because I live in a different area and because I’ve never been through that experience. From the experience I’ve heard from them today, I understand from their own perspective what they went through. I feel that, in my heart, in a way I’ve never felt it before. It’s scary for young people from age 13 – or even below 13 – going through this. I just feel like I need to do something about it. Young people are the next generation and it’s important for us to do something about it.

I’ve been getting into London Youth for some time now. Through City Leaders, through to now. I’m also a member of Reaching Higher which is an organisation that helps young people to become leaders of their lives and to make positive impacts and changes in their community and tackle issues like knife crime. Because I’m in Reaching Higher and doing London Youth, I would like to represent both of them to make big changes in the community.

What was the most important thing you learned today?

The most important lesson I learnt today is that I understand that young people are crying out for help. It’s important for them to reach their potential, to help them be able to grow into their careers, and to keep them safe from knife crime because knife crime has been a major issue for some time. There is a quote I remember from Emma Watson, she was talking about feminism although it can relate to youth violence as well, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I know the time is now, and it’s for us, the young people.

It’s important to improve ourselves and to be the best we can be. All I know is it’s about what’s in your heart. It’s about doing our part. It’s important for me personally that young people are the next generation. With knife crime, young people are wiping out the generation they’re in. It’s important for those of us who are in that generation to help other young people to be the best they can be.

Samuel Howell, Policy Officer

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