Stopping the violence

It’s over a year since Jonathan Matondo died at Nottingham Cliff; and less than six months since Tarek Chaiboub died on Spital Hill. It’s no contradiction to insist that Burngreave has less crime than other parts of what is generally a safe city. But that is of little concern to those families who have lost sons or fathers, and parents who worry about their children, or young people who fret about their friends.

Since the Burngreave Bounces Back march in March of this year, local Council staff and others have been trying to make sure that there is a break to the violence, especially associated with gang culture. Some of these initiatives are in place; some are being set up. Some secure no extra money; some depend on getting wages, or equipment, or improving rooms and buildings. Young people and families should be able to access the following support, now and in the future.


Sheffield Futures are working hard to create a group of skilled, sympathetic, committed adults who could act as ‘mentors’. It has had astonishing results elsewhere. As have ‘street pastors’ who would do night-time patrols on the local streets – something that Seventh Day Adventist Church are trying to get set up.

Life changing projects

The Area Panel has set aside money to pay for two groups of youth to attend the five day LIFE course with the Fire Service. This hugely successful initiative – a five-day course for young people who have fallen foul of the law or are involved in antisocial behaviour, bullying or truancy – has already turned around the lives of many young people across South Yorkshire and won sponsorship from several local agencies. And there’s some money set aside for car building (if that’s what’s needed); and performance arts – available to all 19 and under in Burngreave.

Support to achieve in school

In Burngreave youth and careers workers are working very hard – particularly at a time when jobs and opportunities are getting less – to make sure that all those who leave school have a clear and constructive position either at college, in training or in a decent job. It is more likely that gang involvement will be an attraction for young people who are not obviously fixed up. Similarly, to avoid young people leaving school without realising your potential at GCSE, study support projects, secondary schools Inclusion staff and youth workers are working to make sure individual students get the maximum help in Y10 and Y11. Likewise, there’s got to be opportunities for those young people who shine outside of the school setting – at music, at sport or at artistic endeavour – being recognised for their talent, which gives anyone’s self-confidence a boost.

Dangers of guns and knives

We’ve also got to convince young people that guns lead to violence and possibly death. The police hold whole day sessions for Y9 students called ‘Point 7’ – which bring boys and girls close up to replica and real guns, and the realities of life around guns. It can be a life-changing moment. The ‘Targeted Youth Support Team’ are all trained to deliver a training programme called ‘Be Safe’ which goes through all the implications of carrying weapons; why there is no such thing as a ‘safe place to stab’; why carrying weapons might result in you being the victim of an attack.

Targeted youth support

Some young people on the fringe of gang involvement haven’t had the opportunity of meaningful contact with an adult who isn’t their parent, their teacher, their Youth Offending Team or probation person. The Targeted Youth Support Team are different. Their dealings with young people and families are voluntary; it doesn’t arise from a court case. It happens because someone is worried about where things are going – the young person themselves, youth workers, school staff, parents. The staff and the young person sit down and agree what might be helpful – more assistance with studying; circuit training; regular talks. After a few months, the staff and the youth take stock – is this worthwhile? is it a help? what else is needed? Up to now, 50 young people have been involved – less than half from Burngreave and Pitsmoor.

The police have explained very clearly – on TV, in the papers, in court – what they’re doing about ‘gang related crime’ in Burngreave. But they are not always best placed to do the work that prevents young people ending up there – that is the skill and dedication and effort of local voluntary projects, youth offending staff, youth workers, and schools staff – as well as mosques, churches and youth projects.

The Council team dealing with gangs (Targeted Youth Support Team) can be contacted on 283 5927. Talk to them if you want to. Confidentiality assured. It’s working for all our benefit.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Douglas Johnson on 2008-11-28 20:43:33.
The content of the page was last modified by Douglas Johnson on 2008-11-28 20:45:32.

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