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Education view: On frontline of tackling youth violence

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 February 2019

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The issue of youth violence in our city is so much more than knife and gun crime. It is a major epidemic of social, cultural and economic disaffection and disillusionment among the future of our young people.

Last year, London overtook New York as the world’s capital for homicides.

As a university based in Newham, the University of East London (UEL) is at the heart of this plague. The violence has touched our campus. Last year one of our final year students was granted an extension to hand in her dissertation, as she struggled to cope with the trauma of her own teenage son getting shot. This is not a new problem.

Twenty five years ago, I set up the The Youth Charter – a registered charity and United Nations non-governmental organisation where we use sport, art, culture and digital activities to engage, equip and empower young people. Since taking over role of chairman of the board of governors at UEL, we have been utilising the resources of the university, to address the problem. In January, October and December last year, UEL hosted three major conferences on tackling youth crime.

We are speaking with government ministers and civic leaders, and we are committed to working in a multi-agency partnership allocating our time, space and expertise to add to the work that is already being undertaken by voluntary and statutory partners,local communities and young people themselves. There are many agencies and individuals working towards the same goal, however, this work is fragmented. The Youth Charter’s aim is to bring everyone together, so young people have a safe haven, “somewhere to go”, “something to do” and “someone to show them”.

In March the new offices of The Youth Charter will open at our Stratford campus, heralding our “call to action” where we will ask our partners, organisations and community groups to come together to form a Community Campus. Here, we will select, train and deploy social coach volunteers to give back two hours per week to work in the community.

We are confident this will give them hope, opportunities and the tools to make the right choices.

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