While most parents in the UK approach school summer holidays with the usual trepidation around holiday club, sunscreen and ferry bookings, for some parents the fast approaching summer holiday holds darker worries.
In 2017, the Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Brixton ranked among the highest for youth violence. Government figures show that from 2016-17 to 2018 there has been a 35% increase in youth violence in Lambeth. Parents of young people in these Boroughs are sadly too familiar with these statistics. As the school term comes to an end, the hot weather intensifies and the evenings shown no sign of darkening, there will be more young people, out and about. Many including the police and community groups anticipate an increase in youth violence around London and other cities, including knife crime.
It is so important that there are opportunities for these young people over the summer. Opportunities not just to keep them busy, but activities that engage a young person, to build positive relationships, to empower them to take control of their own future and make positive decisions. Negating a long term vulnerability to criminal activity.
Where so often a young person most at risk of falling into crime, has poor relationships with authorities and teachers, these summer activities are a rare chance to engage youngsters, who for various reasons are isolated and incredibly vulnerable to the attraction of gangs and violent behaviours. Summer holidays are an incredible opportunity to create positive relationships with these young people, establish long term trust and help them achieve their potential.
We are one among several organisations in Lambeth such as Dwaynamics and Fight for Change boxing charities, that is running sport mentoring projects over the summer. Based out of the Black Prince Trust, a sports community hub in the heart of Lambeth, we will be running several sports activities, empowering young people through sport, lead by positive role models.
Whilst 3PiIlars Project work has traditionally focused on young people in custody we recognise the need to contribute to our local community, even if only in a small way. We hope that the coming summer does not lead to the anticipated rise in youth violence, and that we can have some positive impact in our local community alongside so many other good organisations over the coming summer.