Fighting back – Waltham Forest Community Speaks up

The Ask Me Team joined 200 people at a community event in Walthamstow last Thursday 15th August, organised by Stella Creasy MP. The Met Commissioner Cressida Dick also attended with officers from the area to listen to the concerns of the community on the back of the recent rise in youth violence and particularly knife crime.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick at the event

It was so valuable to listen to the diverse audience from across Waltham Forest discuss their concerns and to identify possible solutions.  The session kicked off with really moving testimony from Jayden Moodie’s family. They discussed the tragic impact that Jayden’s murder had had on them and wanted to see more community policing, more activities for young people in the area and support services to help families prevent the problems arising in the first place. We agree with them that “prevention is better than cure” and the community, supported by the police, local council and local interest groups, can pull together to tackle the challenges.  This has been the experience north of the border, for example, in Glasgow. (See – https://quarterly.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/04/a-radical-approach-to-tackling-knife-crime-in-scotland)

At the meeting, the community clearly stated that lack of safe spaces & activities for young people, ease of availability of knives, reduced visibility of community police and the need for better signposting support for young people/their families are issues leading to rise in knife crime & youth crime in the area.

The group wanted greater visibility of services/community police, more specialist support for schools, listening sessions with local councillors, more funding for youth support services, promoting opportunities for young people and giving them a voice identified as some of the big asks.

The event was very well attended

The Ask Me Team were able to explain to those members of the community who attended the aims of the Ask Me online advice and support for young people and their families and to set out our plans to launch the second phase of the Ask Me programme in October.

We promoted the FAQs on the ask-me.org website and encouraged people to raise any questions and issues not covered already via our Ask Us service on the website. The Ask Us service is supported by leading experts in the field of gangs and youth violence who are available to answer any new questions.

So far 16 Ask Me Ambassadors have signed up for the training session on 28th September and should be visible in Waltham Forest from October.  We need another 24 Ambassadors to make the programme as effective as possible.

The community meeting echoed its frustration at the lack of signposting to the various services in the borough to help families affected by gang membership and violence. The Ask Me Ambassadors will not only be available to listen and support young people in the area but will be a much needed first line of defence to sign post anyone with concerns about gang and youth violence to other partners within the Waltham Forest Gang Prevention Programme and wider. 

We are confident that the Ask Me Service, as part of the borough’s public health approach to gang prevention, is playing a leading role in the community’s response to worrying local trends and incidents linked to gang and knife crime.

If you want to ask us a question, click on https://ask-me.org/ask-us

If you have 4 hours+ available each month to give back to your community and you are interested in becoming an Ambassador, please express your interest here – https://ask-me.org/register-your-interest

Posted by AskMe Admin