A new voluntary youth service on the streets of Brixton was launched yesterday (10 July) when organisers leafleted passers-by outside the Tube as they began to recruit 50 volunteers to train to take part in the project.
Backed by the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) and the Green Man Skills Zone in Loughborough Junction, the Lambeth Schools Patrol is planned to start when schools go back in September.
It will focus not on the issue of violence but on positive engagement and communication.
Trained volunteers will work on the streets of Brixton between 3 and 5pm on school days “providing a positive befriending opportunity” for young people.
The plan is that they will “positively interact, guide support and befriend young people outside of the context of a problematic intervention”.
In winter, volunteers will work with schools to promote the project, recruit parent volunteers, and ensure that young people are fully aware of the support they can get from the volunteers.
The project originated with Code 7, a Lambeth-based charity set up in 1996, that provides troubled young people with development through music and performance.
Headed by former local reggae star Asher Senator, a colleague of the late Smiley Culture, and author of the book Smiley and Me, Code 7 has supported thousands of young people in their careers, educational achievement and personal development.
Asher Senator said: “This is a community-inspired project developed as a result of broad public consultation in partnership with the Brixton Improvement District and the Lambeth Green Man Skills Zone.”
The project and its call for volunteers will be highlighted in shops and venues in central Brixton.
Volunteers will go through an in-depth training programme and be checked and cleared before starting work.
They will be able “to signpost young people to a range of opportunities to support their continued education and development”.
Code 7 says consultations throughout 2017 and 2018 around a number of community health, safety and development themes led to the idea for a Lambeth Schools Patrol.
“This is a project with a difference,” said Code 7. “The community was quite clear that, whilst most youth intervention projects were focused on violence, the community demanded that a more positive engagement be considered that would provide an opportunity to develop good relations and communications with young people outside of the problematic context of ‘youth violence’.”
According to Transport for London, more than 20,000 young people of secondary school age, travel through Lambeth each school day.
“This is an opportunity for us to positively interact with young people in a constructive context,” said Asher Senator.
“This is an incredibly innovative project that was born out of community consultation and conversation.
“We want to offer young people in Lambeth every opportunity to fulfil their ambitions and dreams by providing a standing youth service, an information resource on Brixton High Street.
“We will offer advice on everything, and all our volunteers will be trained to either provide the information or the ability to identify and access the information and pass on to the young person concerned.
“More importantly, we offer an opportunity for intergenerational contact, the development of relationships with positive people, the ability to broaden and deepen a wide range of relationships and opportunities.
“We wish to work with schools and parents to provide some visible support to young people out there where it matters most, on the streets.”
Michael Groce of Green Man Skills Zone said: “We are delighted to be working with Code 7 in recruiting and training volunteers for the establishment of Lambeth Schools Patrol.
“This is community spirit in action and working together we can provide more opportunities to young people than when working alone.
“We will be training volunteers to ensure that they have all the information they need to respond to young people’s interests, concerns, anxieties or ambitions.
“It’s an exercise in community love that we hope will be an inspiration to many. The community is volunteering its time and with a little support from businesses we can hopefully make a real difference to some young people who need the support of others to successfully negotiate the challenges in life”
Michael Smith, director of the Brixton Business Improvement District said: “It’s been a real pleasure to help sponsor and fund this project, one that has genuine support, addresses the issue of youth engagement and provides a trained community resource, that can help signpost and support young people throughout their school life.
“Local businesses are keen to support projects which are great importance to local communities and there can be nothing as important as providing a safe place for our youth, and at the same time ensuring that we provide the best support we can, in signposting young people to their future ambitions and dreams.”
Paul Canoville, who was Chelsea football club’s first Black player, said: “I think that Lambeth Schools Patrol is a great idea.
“I’m working in schools a lot in Lambeth and I’m always bowled over by their passion and enthusiasm to achieve, seeing a whole community come together like this to keep them safe is close to my heart and I’m looking forward to joining the launch.”
To enquire about volunteering, contact Code 7 on 020 7998 1531 or visit its website.