Violence reduction funds for local estates

memorial with flowers and balloons
A spontaneous memorial to 22-year-old Keelen Morris Wong sprang up at the junction of Moorland Road and Coldharbour Lane close to where he was fatally stabbed in October this year 

Communities on two large local Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) estates – Moorlands and Clapham Park – are to receive additional funding from the Mayor of London’s violence reduction unit (VRU).

MTVH will get £169,00 for Lambeth estates from an overall fund of £3.1m and will lead a partnership with local grass roots organisations Big Kid Foundation, Bridge the Gap, and Step Now at Moorlands and Clapham Park as part of the VRU’s Stronger Futures after-school programme. 

“Recent events in London involving knife crime shows how violence can devastate communities, MTVH said.

“We are united in grief along with the family and friends of the victims of recent attacks in Croydon, Roundshaw in Sutton, and Brixton, and we join with the local community in our support to drive down incidents of violent crime.”

MTVH said building partnerships and investing in services which support young people to live fulfilling lives away from violence and crime “could scarcely be more important”. 

It said violence affecting young people is most likely to happen between 3 and 10pm on school days.

The VRU’S Stronger Futures partnership aims “to fill the voids which leads to this terrible violence through giving young people the opportunities which can prevent their exposure to criminal exploitation”.

MTVH said Stronger Futures would support more than 600 young people aged between 10 and 18 from Moorlands and Clapham Park who may be at risk of violence, exploitation, or grooming.

The partnership will deliver prevention and early intervention work from of 3 to 10pm on school days.

The VRU has invested in 23 targeted projects being delivered across 25 London boroughs that are working with young people after school and at weekends to improve educational outcomes and reduce school exclusions. It is working with partners to improve employability prospects and mental health and wellbeing.

Lib Peck, director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, and a former leader of Lambeth council said: “We firmly believe that violence is preventable, not inevitable.

“That means using evidence to understand where best to intervene to make the biggest difference in a young person’s life.

“Our Stronger Futures programme recognises the importance of keeping young people safe after school and that’s why we’re building on it by boosting funding to treble the number of young people who will now access support, mentoring and vital opportunities.

“Youth workers play an integral role in this approach, which forms a key part of the VRU’s efforts to help keep young people safe to enable them to thrive.”

 The MTVH executive director of customer services, Kush Rawal, said: “We have been united in our grief on the recent incidents of youth violence. These have been extremely shocking and saddening and our thoughts are with all those effected.

“We are determined to do all we can to help eradicate youth violence and it’s causes, including social inequalities. Collaboration is key to achieving this.

“With the support of VRU’s Stronger Futures funding, we are partnering with local grassroots organisations to provide a variety of activities in areas experiencing high levels of violence affecting young people.

“The activities we are delivering are aspirational, educational and fun, to help reduce the risks young people face in terms of criminal exploitation and help to create the opportunities they need to realise their full potential.”

MTVH is one of the UK’s largest housing associations. It owns, manages or administers around 57,000 homes across London, the South East, East Midlands and East of England.

The partners

BIGKID Foundation, based at Dexters adventure playground on Brixton’s Railton Road, is an award-winning youth and community charity established in 2008 by CEO/founder Shaninga Marasha.

Its mission is to end youth violence. Over the past 15 years, BIGKID has worked with more than 25,000 young people and works with over 2,500 each year.

“BIGKID exists to equip young people at risk of social exclusion and youth violence to take control of their lives in the London borough of Lambeth,” it says.

“We believe that behind every kid is something big and that, with the right support, we can put an end to youth violence and school exclusions.

“BIGKID supports young people to take control of their lives and act on their potential though community engagement, leadership and mentoring programme.”

Step Now is a youth mentoring organisation dedicated to equipping young people from 11 to 25 with the knowledge to make better choices in life.

A community interest company (CIC) based in Brixton, its mission is “to mentor educate and empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by educating, being relatable role models, equipping them with the mindset, life skills and tools to successfully step into adulthood”.

Its works “to impart knowledge, share experiences and give our young people a safe place to learn, be heard and stay motivated”.

Step Now says it is “about prevention and leading by example; to show the young. people that there are alternatives to gang culture, a life of crime and just settling for mediocrity.”

Bridge the Gap Studios is a Brixton-based CIC that works with young people and families facing challenging life situations.

“We encourage and facilitate improvements – in home life, educational attainment, attitudes, and futures,” it says.

“We use music and drama therapy, a variety of creative workshops, and evidenced-based parenting programmes as platforms to illustrate and support positive life choices.”

In the past five years, Bridge the Gap Studios has supported more than 200 young people and families across London.