I was joined by 5 students at Barking Town Hall for an event to mark the communities response to knife crime in the Borough. We were joined by a selection of local councillors, MP, representatives from the youth offending services, police, community stakeholders, local youth organisations and a completely full audience of members of the public; all of which came together to look at the issue of knife crime on our streets and try to look for possible solutions.
The event was planned by friend of the school Beatrice Mushiya, a lady we have had the privilege to work with over the past 6 months in developing programmes to prevent young people from carrying knives.
3 of our students who were involved in her sessions gave speeches and addressed the packed out Town Hall articulately and maturely.
The first spoke of the impact that local community groups and youth provision has had on his life, helping to keep him out of trouble and giving him the opportunity to find something that he is not just good at but can be proud of and belong to.
The second spoke of the importance of Beatrice’s sessions in schools, of the impact they have on young people and the way forward in terms of looking for solutions to keep young people safe.
The final speech was from a young man who talked of “his heart dropping to the floor” when he heard Beatrice’s story, when seeing her pain all he could think of was his own mother. His message was one of gratitude to Beatrice for the work she has done so far and of the importance of it continuing and a programme being rolled out across the Borough to all schools. He ended his speech by thanking Beatrice for what she has done to keep him safe, from both himself and on behalf of his mother.
The event saw keynote addresses from Beatrice, who told her story, spoke of her aims, the work she has done and the work left still to do. Darren Rodwell, started with an opening address and was followed by the police and other local councillors who launched a pledge to work together as a community to end knife crime.
In the centre of the event was a public meeting where questions could be asked to the panel made up of people from across the Borough’s Youth Service. It was a privilege that I was able to attend on behalf of teachers across the borough and discuss the positive work being done in schools to raise aspirations, focus on prevention work and ensure that students are safe and feel safe around the Borough. We acknowledged that there is a lot fo work to do but that there are pockets of extremely good practice across the Borough and that in working together to share that we would be in a much stronger place.
It was fantastic to get a range of questions from young people within the Borough, although very sadly so many of them were linked to their fears. It also made me realise how lucky I am to be in a school that is investing so much time into prevention, awareness and raising young people’s aspirations so that “they are so busy working on their dream that they don’t have time to be distracted” to quote one of our student speakers.
Later in the evening we networked with youth and voluntary groups and took the opportunity to teach some members of the public CPR and talked to as many people as possible.
I cannot explain how proud I am of our students for the way in which they represented not just the school but also their peers at this event. I thank them for their hard work and for the difference they have made to their community.
Head of PSCHE