Knife Crime Conference

Knife Crime Awareness Event
Knife Crime Awareness Event

‘Building families and community resilience around gang violence’

Story: Muna Abdi

[Educational Researcher and Coordinator of the Somali Professionals Association]

Saturday 28th March saw youth workers, community members, young people, activists and councillors come together at Burngreave’s Vestry Hall to discuss how to challenge gang violence.

The event was hosted by the Somali Professionals Association (SPA) in partnership with the Knife Awareness Project. It aimed to create a dialogue as well as a call to action. The workshop followed a successful family fun day organised by the Knife Awareness Project and the Sheffield Muslim Community Forum.

The workshop was run by Raymond Douglas and Craig Pinkney. Raymond is the founder of ‘Gangology’- a development programme for practitioners working with at-risk youth. Craig is a criminologist, urban youth specialist and director of Real Action UK – a charity which specialises in working with disaffected youth.

Raymond and Craig came to share their experiences of community-based initiatives to tackle youth and gang violence in Birmingham, so we can try and copy them in Sheffield. They looked at why some young people become involved in gang-related violence and stressed the importance of educating workers and communities as well as the young people. Raymond Douglas asked “Where are the gang intervention steering groups in Sheffield?”

Both speakers were surprised by the lack of collective action in Sheffield, which was a wake-up call for those present. We discussed the need to use our skills and work together to educate and train community members, activists, youth workers and young people. We also discussed the need for leadership programmes to empower and involve young people. Although the event was open to people of all ages, the organisers knew how crucial it was to have young people participating. However, when two local police officers in uniform arrived at the start of the workshop, we knew this would cause tension. Some groups of young people saw the officers and refused to enter the room. One of them, Omar, complained, “We didn’t know they would be here. I’m not coming in because they don’t want to listen to us. They just think we want to cause trouble.” Despite the best intentions, there is often a massive barrier between young people and authority.

The event concluded with everyone agreeing we now had a platform to call for action. We have created a mailing list and had a follow up meeting. We would like to extend the invitation to anyone in the community who can commit to working with us to develop an active youth awareness steering group. Members from all community groups and age groups are welcome but we particularly encourage young people to come on board. No one knows youth issues better than the young people themselves.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Muna Abdi at or 07889 672 412.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Graham Jones on 2015-05-28 13:25:35.
The content of the page was last modified by Gaby Spinks on 2016-10-07 10:57:59.

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