Newham youth commission meets for final time to mark progress in fight against violence
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 November 2019
Safe havens from knife crime and programmes promoting better relationships with the police were among the achievements celebrated at the final meeting of the Newham Civil Society Youth Commission.
Held at St Bonaventure's secondary in Forest Gate, the November 7 meeting looked at how much progress had been made on 11 goals the commission set in April to tackle violence in the borough. More than 500 young people contributed their thoughts to create those targets.
The commission also commemorated the death of 15-year-old Baptista Adjei, who was killed in Stratford in October. The incident emphasised to people in the room the importance of the fight against violence.
The Metropolitan Police, Newham Council, schools, community groups and dozens of Newham students were in attendance.
Andy Lewis is deputy head at St Bonaventure's and chairman of the commission.
"We want to make Newham a safer and better place for everyone - a vision shared by politicians, police and our institutions," he said. "If we can find ways to empower our young people, to inspire them to bring about change, I genuinely believe our vision will be realised.
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"It feels like we are at a critical moment, a tipping point, where the community are willing to come together and be that positive change.
"Our community, but particularly our young people, will only flourish when they feel safe - they need safe spaces and safe journeys."
In Stratford, 20 business signed up to shelter young people if they need help. That came after a campaign by young people.
And St Bonaventure's and Newham Sixth Form College (New VIc) have already rolled out first aid courses to their young people to teach them what to do if they see a victim of violence.
New VIc is also bringing young people and police together on December 3 to try to improve relations between the two, especially around stop and search.
For their part, the police have printed 10,000 more stop and search receipts, which say why a person has been searched and means they can show officers down the road they've already been stopped.
Newham's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said the Youth Safety Board is investigating young people's safety in the borough, adding the authority is also working to educate communities about the dangers of grooming.