How do we stop gang violence?

On Monday I was down in London, again! This time I would say it was my best  event yet as it was to do with gang violence and knife-crime – I’ve got a lot of views on this subject so I was really excited about it.

So I got up at 5.45am, got showered, dressed and made sure I had everything and then a Taxi picked me up at 7.20 – I had to be really quite so I didn’t wake Kiera up!

Got to the airport and was standing in the line to go through security and I hear someone shouting my name. It’s my sisters boyfriend, Ryan. How random! He was off to Bristol. So, got through security fine and then went along to WHSmiths to get a magazine and water for the plane then headed over to Starbucks to get a coffee for the plane.

I checked the board for my flight and I was to go to gate 10. I headed over and was just about to sit down to wait to board…

*BING BONG* “could Kendall Gregory please return to WHSmiths immediately, thank you.”

Crap. What have I done. I’m sure I’ve paid for everything. It was 1omins until we where to board so I ran all the way back to WHSmiths panicking, trying not to spill hot coffee down me and trying to figure out what it is I’ve done.

I’d left my bankcard there – phew. I’m so lucky I got it back that would not have been good.

Something always happens to me. Anyway, headed back over to the gate and got on the plane, sat down next to two Dutch girls, one was obviously terrified of flying as she was sat with a brown bag and looked terrified. The plane took off 5mins early because everyone was on it. During the flight I read all about building an igloo, which I now really want to try out and read a magazine. Oh, and drank my coffee which I managed not to spill!

Landed in London about 9.50 – man it was flippin’ cold. Luckily I had, last minute, decided to take a jumper. Put that on and then went for the bus to go to the train station to go to St Pancreas where I was meeting Peter (other young ambassador). He had to get the train down because he doesn’t have a passport so he had left at 23.15 and arrived at 7.15! I met Peter outside Starbucks in the station and then went over to Kings Cross to get the underground to Angel – this is where we were meeting Nicki (Prince’s Trust employee) and a few other young ambassadors. Nicki had phoned me and said she was standing by the ticket booth and had a big red bag with her. Once everyone was there we headed over to the event. Which we did actually get a bit lost walking too, but we made it.

We got there and where offered tea, coffee and biscuits and got a chance to get to know each other. Then a woman from the Home Office came over and took us through to a room were they wanted to ask us our views. This part I was a little unsure of as I thought they might not really listen to what we were saying – I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was 6 of us young ambassadors sat with 3 Home Office civil servants. We went round the table saying our name and a little about ourselves and then they asked us what we think would help prevent gang violence, knife-crime. All of us a brilliant points to make.

– The government spent £3.5million on adverts last year directed at young people but most of whom didn’t see them  because they were out or laughed them off with there friends.

– That money could/should have went to taking a group of young people from each area, taking them out the comfort zone and doing something like camping with them or a day trip somewhere. This would let people from different areas that fight with each other meet in unusual surroundings and realise that they have things in common and hopefully wont want to fight.

All of us agreed that things need to change in schools.

– Monthly they could have Prince’s Trust ambassadors sharing there stories with pupils about how they struggled and the boundaries they’ve overcome but now are in college, university, starting there own business or in work. This will show them that there is hope and you do have to work hard but you can get there. During this they could aslo ask the pupils thoughts on gang vilence and how they think it could be stopped/prevented.

– Classes on life skills, a lot of teenagers get kicked out there homes and have there own flat by 16 but they dont know anything about housing, bills, money management, basic life skills that are needed. This will prepare pupils for life outside of school and there homes its all basic knowladge that no-one seems to learn until they are by themselves and figure it out. 

– Teachers need to be thinking about the ‘troubled’ children, the ones always getting in trouble or missbehaving. Instead of kicking them out of class and excluding them they should be thinking, “why are they acting like this” and treat it differently. By excluding ‘troubled’ children they are making them more angry and more detached from the others, if they treat them differently and try to encourage them the pupils will feel safer and probably want to learn more.

– Politics. This generation aren’t involved enough and feel there word doesn’t get heard. If there’s a new law coming out they could ask there Life Skills teacher to get pupils thoughts/ideas on this, film/record it and get it sent into Home Office. Get pupils involved, they are the future therefore shouldn’t feel threatened by civil servants or politics, maybe give the subject a different name but get the pupils word heard.

Things need to be done starting from primary school, children need encouraging so they feel important and believe in themselves and don’t feel worthless. Most importantly it needs to be frequent.

Once we got a few points/ideas across we then went round the Ben Kinsella exhibition – he was murdered aged 16 in 2008. He was the 17th child to die by knifepoint in 2008.

The exhibition was really emotional, truthful and I could really relate to it all. They played a video with his 3 sisters, mum, dad and friends all talking about him and how even 3 years on it still really hurts. During the video it also showed CCTV footage of Ben walking away after he had been stabbed. It was very moving the whole thing.

The next room there where posters on the wall that told you things like how much blood we have in our bodies, what to do if you do get stabbed, what to do if you witness someone getting stabbed and much more – all of these posters will hopefully be around the UK soon. This room also had videos of a girl whos brother had stabbed someone and how she got beaten up, moved schools, escorted everywhere and how much impact it had on her, another was one of two guys in prision who had stabbed people and the effect its had on them and there families and the other was a video of a victim who had been stabbed in the eye and left him brain damaged.

We then went into another room that was like being in a prison cell, it had the exact bunkers that are used in jail but the room still had a little work to be done. One of the young ambassadors had been in jail before and suggested putting toothpaste of the walls as that’s what is used to stick pictures up of loved ones.

There was then another room that had a comic strip on the wall with three different ending and we were to say which we thought was most realistic to us – sadly it wasn’t the happy ended any of us chose it was either the girlfriend got stabbed or the boyfriend got stabbed. It then had videos of the Eastenders cast saying there thoughts on it all (Ben’s sister Brooke was in Eastenders) it also had JSL, Tinie Tempah and a few other celebrities.

At the end we got to write what we thought of the exhibition. I suggested they also have an anonymous box where people can write what they think could prevent knife-crime this again could get sent to Home Office.

We then went though to the room and spoke to a friend of the Kinsella family, who has helped with everything, and told him what we thought about it. Which was filled with positive feedback.

The exhibition will be going around the UK soon so please go along to it.

It was such a good day, very emotional, very moving and I really hope in the next 12 months drastic things start happening. I have asked to be kept involved with all of this so fingers crossed I will get updates – as soon as I know anything I will of course fill you all in.

This topic will always be an important one to after losing a friend to knife-crime in 2007 – it doesn’t get easier, you just learn how to hide it better.





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1 Comment

  • Trev
    February 1, 2012 at 17:42

    Brilliant piece.

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