Newham College staff educated in gang life by ex-offender

Staff at Newham College received an education in the secretive world of youth gangs from a former member turned campaigner.

Sheldon Thomas was invited to the East Ham Campus on October 25 to give a presentation to faculty members about how to spot and stop students turning into gang members.

He said: “Teachers are not equipped to deal with it. They need to be trained up.”

Sheldon was a gang member in the 1970s but he broke away to form a faith-based organisation called Gangsline in 2009 - dedicated to eradicating the root causes of youth gangs in Newham and Barking & Dagenham.

Gangsline estimates there are about 350 gang members in Newham, four of which are thought to be leaders, whose main activities are selling drugs, guns, and engaging in violence.


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Sheldon said: “In 1976, when I was a gang member, I had a certain what you could call moral ethics. I wouldn’t rape a girl or commit a crime on Sunday.

“Today, they don’t respect women, they shoot mothers and torture people. And it’s not true to say that a gang member will stop the violence if he has a job.”

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The Home Office has given Gangsline a grant so teams can visit prisons, hospitals, schools, and work with youth offending teams and religious leaders in east London over the next 12 months.

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