Students visit West Ham MP in House of Commons to talk about gang crime

Rokeby School and Sarah Bonnell School pupils with West Ham MP Lyn Brown at the House of Commons.

Rokeby School and Sarah Bonnell School pupils with West Ham MP Lyn Brown at the House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

Students have been presented with awards made out of melted down weapons by a charity and praised by their MP for turning their friends off gang life.

Five young women from Sarah Bonnell School, in Deanery Road, Stratford, and eight young men from Rokeby School, on Barking Road, Canning Town, have been trained as “peer educators” to give special assemblies about the realities of violent crime to other pupils.

Long-running Newham charity Community Links has been teaching the youngsters as part of its Street Life project which is funded by the Home Office.

The students have been so inspired by the project that they asked Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, whether they could talk to her about their concerns so she invited them to her office in the House of Commons on June 4.

The Sarah Bonnell girls spoke to Ms Brown about improving relations between young people and the police and what can be done about the personal safety of young girls in gangs who may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

The Rokeby boys discussed the impact of negatives stereotypes of young people and the importance of employment opportunities in turning them off of a life of crime.

Ms Brown said: “The most inspiring element is to see the young people themselves leading the campaign against guns, gangs, and violence in their own school and communities.

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“In these very difficult times, this project is invaluable.

“These young people have taken a brave stance and I truly believe that they have shown the sort of adults they are going to grow up to be.

“I would like to see many more young people follow their lead and earn their keys to a better future and a better community.”

They were then presented with awards made from melted down weapons taken off the streets by charity Word 4 Weapons which provides secure weapons bins around London.

Street Life started in 2011 and it has worked with five schoools in Newham in the past year.

Mark Steer, Youth Outreach Manager for Community Links who started the project, said: “It is important that we engage with young people on this issue to prevent them from being influenced by gang culture and weapon enabled crime.”