‘Newham youth services have been cut at time when knife crime is rising’ says charity chief
PUBLISHED: 07:01 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:42 12 January 2018
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A youth charity founder has said grassroots intervention in Newham has been cut leaving young people without the support to steer away from gangs and crime at a time when youth stabbings are rising.
Kevin Jenkins, OBE, founded Ambition Aspire Achieve (AAA), because of a longstanding desire to provide opportunities for the young people in Newham, and runs Ark in the Park in Canning Town.
He says crucial services have been stripped out of the borough in recent years - at a time when youth knife attacks are on the rise.
“We fear a lot of the grassroots stuff has gone over the last five years,” he said. “Youth clubs, church clubs, sports clubs, a lot of that has gone because of cuts.
“At the same time thresholds have risen, so it’s harder for young people with issues and problems to get the help they need.
“Our concern is there is an increase in crime, at the same time there is a reduction in facilities and opportunities available.”
Knife attacks on under 25s in Newham have soared by 21 per cent in the last year and by 59 per cent compared to five years ago, according to data from the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime.
The charity holds workshops to encourage young people to open up about the issues relating to knives.
Mr Jenkins said some young people believe Newham has not seen the benefits of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“I think there’s a feeling that since the Olympics house prices have gone up too fast to get accommodation, and that has happened in parallel with a lot of the stuff young people used to go to closing down,” he said.
“I think there is a general feeling that the Olympics didn’t produce all that it wanted to do, which is a shame.”
Mr Jenkins called for investment in youth work to help tackle rising knife attacks in Newham, and for sanctions for carrying and using knives to be brought inline with gun crime.
“The only way you’re going to eradicate knife crime is through a community approach,” he said.
“It’s got to be all the agencies working together - police, councils, business - reducing access, reducing the risk, and enforcement. No one agency can solve this, it’s got to be a community issue.”