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London's youth crime continues to painfully soar despite it being a 'key priority'​

In August 2018 it was reported that London’s murder rate surpassed that of New York’s for the first time, with the London Metropolitan Police launching 89 investigations only half way through the year, compared to New York's 50.

To date, there have been 117 murder investigations launched in the capital, with the most recent taking place yesterday (02/11/2018) where a 17 year old boy died after being stabbed outside Clapham South tube station. This was the second teenager stabbed to death in London in 24 hours, as a 15 year old boy was murdered the night before.

Reports show that of these homicides nearly 3 in 5 have been fatal stabbings, one third of the victims are aged between 16 and 24 years and almost half of the victims were described by police as African-Caribbean.

In 2017 the number of homicides recorded in the capital totalled to 131, this followed the 111 murders recorded in 2016 and 122 in 2015. Police records from earlier years show that the number of homicides in London had reduced to 91 in 2014, which was a major improvement to the 164 which took place in 2007.

2007 was a significant year for me. This was also the year my sister suddenly passed away. My sister was 26 years old when she died. She was born with Down Syndrome and hole in her heart. Her death turned my world upside down. Although I was experiencing tremendous pain, I found it impossible to imagine the suffering families were experiencing as a result of their loved ones being murdered, many of which were still children.

I buried my heartache in my studies, my focus and passion was on how I could help the current youth crime problem and how I could help provide a safe space for children and young people to develop, realise their potential and make the most of their lives.

Based on all the research I have carried out during both my Bachelor's and Master's Degree, and my personal experience as a youth growing up in one of London’s most deprived areas, I decided to run a project which focused on using basketball to develop cohesion among young people from different area in Haringey during the summer of 2008. The project was a huge success, participants and parents wanted more events of this kind throughout the year. This was the birth of my company which was later registered as a Community Interest Company in 2010 under the name HR Sports Academy.

10 years on and we have come full circle, with youth crime at its highest level. Since our creation we have touched the lives of over 30,000 participants. Helping them develop skills in different sports, along with a number of life skills such as communication, team-work, leadership, perseverance, problem solving and decision making. Our work has had a positive impact on participant’s mental and physical health, behaviour, community cohesion, youth crime, anti-social behaviour, social exclusion, educational attainment, employment and inequality.

The mindset of young people caught up in violence, their childhood experiences in the home, on the street, in schools and why they are influenced easily through social media should seriously be looked at as a symptom and as a cause of youth violence. Without understanding these factors we are unable to get to the root causes of violence in all its forms.

There is an undeniable direct link to austerity, poverty and youth crime; however, politicians are failing to act on this common knowledge. Violence has been linked to young people not having the basics like coming home to a meal, adequate clean and warm clothing, not having a parent around and being left in vulnerable situations.

Tottenham, an area known for the riots in 1985 and 2011, gangs, drugs, robberies and where 1 in 3 children are living below the poverty line. Many of these children are from single parent households and see firsthand their family’s hardships, friends and/or family members deep in crime or even killed. This is their reality. 

We need more services, such as those provided by my company, which works with vulnerable, at risk young people and divert them from criminal activity by supporting them from an early age. Activities which provide parents with a safe environment to leave their children while they work, structured sessions delivered by positive role models which develop children and young people and keep them off the streets during the vulnerable outside of school hours. HR Sports Academy provides sport related opportunities for young people to use as a catalyst for positive youth development and success. We help individuals feel satisfied with their life, recognise what they excel in, use their strengths to fulfil pursuits, and become contributing members of society. We deliver wide variety of projects which use sport directly and indirectly to attract and hook children and young people to our provisions and enable them to gain benefits from our services.

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination” Nelson Mandela.

I am a firm believer that we all need to be the change we want to see in the word. However, what really frustrates me is the fact that much valuable and amazing work is being down by individuals and community groups who are from these deprived area, who are able to engage the most vulnerable and hardest to reach youths, those with a genuine passion for their community and its development, but because we do not look like, talk like, or live in the areas of the ‘typical’ Chief Executive Officers and policy makers, our work is not supported and our young people are left to kill each other and help reduce the over population of this country/world.

The Duchess of Sussex recently said “when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures not only for themselves but also for those around them”. This girl started a mission 10 years with 10 basketballs and the aim to be the positive role model and outlet so many disadvantaged children and young people needed.

Like the long running America action film series, my Mission: Impossible continues!

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